The Carolina Hurricanes overcame an early 2-0 deficit and managed to force overtime before bowing to the visiting Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night. Tim Stapleton scored the game winning goal at the 1:38 mark of the extra session.
The Canes had not played since last Friday and it was clear early that instead of being rested, the five days off made Paul Maurice’s club rusty. It also made them desperate as the Buffalo Sabres passed Carolina in the standings for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Goals by Rob Schremp and Tobias Enstrom in the first period quickly gave the Thrashers a 2-0 lead and put the Hurricanes backs against the wall.
“We’ve got to get a little more concerted jump,” Maurice admitted when asked about his team’s slow start. “I don’t think we were nearly as aggressive on our forecheck or physically aggressive.”
To their credit, the Hurricanes didn’t quit and clawed their way back into the game. Big Troy Bodie scored his first goal with the Canes midway through the second period when he put home the rebound of a shot by Bryan Allen. It was Allen’s first point since Carolina acquired him from the Panthers at the trade deadline.
The goal gave the Canes a charge and they nearly tied the game when Corey Stillman hit the cross bar on an odd man rush shortly after Bodie’s tally. The momentum shifted to the home team as the second period progressed and Carolina’s forechecking and passing improved.
The Hurricanes played desperate hockey in the third period, outshooting Atlanta 13-4. They tied the game when a long Stillman pass set up Erik Cole on a breakaway and he put the puck past Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 7:39 left in regulation time. Stillman took advantage of line change by the Thrashers and made them pay with a pinpoint pass to Cole.
But strong play by Pavelec down the stretch kept Atlanta in the game and forced overtime where Stapleton beat Cam Ward for the game winner. The Thrashers took six shots on goal in just 1:38 of overtime. The loss ended a four-game winning streak over the Thrashers for Carolina.
Despite the loss, the Canes picked up a valuable point in the standings and are now tied with the Sabres in the standings although Buffalo now has a game in hand.
The Hurricanes return to action Friday night when they travel to Washington to face the Capitals.
About the Author
Written by Brad Kurtzberg
Hockey writer for more than 10 years. Has been published on Fox Sports, MSG Network, Huffington Post and Inside Hockey. Wrote the book, "Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals, Hockey's Most Colorful Team" on the old California Golden Seals and is presently working on his second book.