Hockey can be an unpredictable game and this was exemplified in the Hurricanes thrilling 5-4 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens. For 40 minutes, the Hurricanes looked completely lifeless, uninspired and on their way to a sixth straight loss. Despite numerous power plays and Montreal's best attempts to get Carolina back into the game, the Canes found themselves down 3-0 at the second intermission and were getting dominated in all phases. They were losing basically every single race to the puck and their power play had already been blanked on eight attempts. The only area where they had advantage over Montreal was on the shot count but even that was boosted from their high number of power plays.
Then something clicked when the Canes took the ice for the third period. They were already on a power play and Jeff Skinner finally made Montreal pay by scoring on a great individual effort. Quickly benefiting from yet another penalty, the Canes were able to score again courtesy of Mr. Skinner and all of the sudden, we had a competitive game on our hands. Whether it was the power plays or Montreal getting worn down from playing so much in their own end, Carolina looked like a completely different team in the third period and performed an onslaught on Montreal goaltender Carey Price. It paid off quickly for them, as Eric Staal cashed in on a rebound in front of the net to tied the game early in the third period. They continued this assault and took the lead courtesy of a goal from Manny Malhotra after a great, cycling shift from the fourth line.
That alone would have been a great story but the drama didn't stop there. With so many penalties called against Montreal, they were bound to get a late man-advantage opportunity sometime and this is exactly what happened late in the third period when Tuomo Ruutu was whistled for interference. Montreal made quick work of their power play with PK Subban scoring on a bomb from the blue line to tie the game. After that, Montreal began to control the play and had a chance to put the Canes away late after getting a four-minute power play thanks to Eric Staal taking a boarding penalty and arguing with the official afterward.
With the way things have been going for the Canes lately, it would have been appropriate for Montreal to end the game here and spoil the Canes comeback effort but Carolina had other plans in mind. Not only did the Canes kill off the double-minor, they also did not allow the Canadiens to take one shot on goal during this sequence and finished it off in overtime with Alex Semin scoring his fifth goal of the season.
Some might chalk this win up to shooting regression because the Hurricanes were simply creating too much offense to go unrewarded, but the reality is that Montreal handed this game to Montreal. Despite trailing in shots, they had full control of this game through 40 minutes and allowed Carolina back into the game by taking so many penalties. It took awhile for the Hurricanes to finally capitalize, but they were still playing a lot in their own end and looked very tired by the third period. The fact that Michel Therrien had to work with a shortened bench from all the special teams play didn't help matters. Carolina spent the majority of the second period in Montreal's end and it eventually took its toll in the third.
Even after that, the Habs had a chance to take control of this game after Carolina's two (technically three) third period penalties) and couldn't put it away. That gave the Hurricanes some more breathing room and they eventually got the job done in OT. This was a huge win for the team and hopefully the start of something good in Raleigh. We've seen Carolina fold in close games like this, so getting a win out of this one might install some confidence in them going forward. Let's just hope the game plan differs from what we saw last night.no comments