The Carolina Hurricanes are mired in the middle of a horrific season with league’s worst record. They were 14-27-7 as they came into Philips Arena for a Thursday night match with a Thrashers team who…if a few other scores fell their way…could have moved into the 8th position in the Eastern Conference with a win.
However, just the day before, the Canes announced that they were switching captains… Rod Brind’Amour handing over the ‘C’ to Eric Staal. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said that the new captain “is the player around whom the team will be constructed” during Wednesday’s announcement.
Well, if Thursday night’s performance is any indication of what the future holds for that organization, they should be just fine as the new captain led his mates into Thrasherville and spanked the home team 5-2 behind his hat trick. Staal had 8 shots on goal.
The Thrashers were trying to win two consecutive games for the first time since an overtime victory against Montreal and shootout win against the Rangers back in mid-December. To find the last time they strung together two regulation wins, we have to go back to…flipping back through schedule…back to…ah, here we go…all the way back to November 28 and 30 when they beat Philadelphia 1-0 and Florida 4-3. However, as has been the case since, their “win streak” was stalled out at one.
Or would that be… “Staal-ed” out?
For Carolina…this was only the fifth road win of the season.
Starting for the fifth time in the past six games, Ondrej Pavelec… who is now 12-13-4 with a 3.47 GAA and .903 SV%… surrendered four of the goals on 21 shots. The 22nd shot that resulted in Staal’s hat trick came while Opie as on the bench.
That’s right…the Thrashers held the ‘Canes to only 22 shots. Granted, three of them came during a third period in which Carolina was entered with a 4-1 lead. But this is the second time this week that Atlanta held a team to fewer than 25 SOG but wound up losing. Last Monday they were blanked in Florida 1-0 and held the Panthers to just 24 shots.
Atlanta was held without a goal on all six power play chances…four of which came in the third period. “On special teams, I don’t want to use the word horrific”, coach John Anderson said in the post-game presser. “But that’s the first thing that comes to my mind…our power play isn’t generating a lot”.
Carolina, on the other hand, had three goals on four power play chances.
With the loss, Atlanta is now 22-21-7 and remain at the 51-point level. Combined with the Islanders shootout win against Florida, Tampa Bay’s overtime win against Toronto and Philadelphia’s shutout against the Rangers, the Thrashers now find themselves tied with the Panthers for second place in the Southeast Division and one point ahead of the Lighting. They reside in the tenth place spot in the conference along with the Panthers and Canadiens…all three now two points behind the 9th place Flyers and three points behind Boston and the Islanders who are 7th and 8th.
I guess if you want to look on the bright side…if the current win-one-lose-one trend the Thrashers have been on lately continues, then we should all be treated to a victory Saturday while viewing the game at TJ’s…right?