Carolina is back in the playoff hunt after a key game four victory at Montreal’s Bell Centre. The Hurricanes who looked anything but powerful in games one and two, played with a determination on Friday night as they edged Montreal 3-2 tying up their best of seven series at two wins apiece.
With Saku Koivu out of the line up indefinitely with a damaged eye, it was up to the rest of Les habitants to focus in on what needed to be done. On Friday they seemed to lose some of that focus as Carolina battled back to control a fair amount of the play on the night.
Radek Bonk was given the unenviable job of trying to fill Koivu’s place on the Ryder and Higgins line, but couldn’t seem to mesh with his new line mates, by games end, coach Bob Gainey had relegated Bonk to the bench for periods at a time as he tried to find the key ingredient to that line that would regenerate some offence from them.
Gainey’s line up problems continued with the scoring line of Kovalev, Ribeiro and Bulis not registering a shot on goal in the entire game, something that will have to change should Montreal wish to upset and defeat the number two seed in the East.
For Carolina, Rod Brind’amour had a strong game as he scored the winning goal early in the third period. It was Justin Williams who had the best night for the Canes though, scoring a goal and assist to aid the cause. Williams is definitely Public Enemy Number 1 in Montreal, after his stick accidentally hit Koivu in game three, every time he and the Hurricanes touched the puck a cascade of boos would resonate around the Bell Centre. It added to Carolina’s feeling of us against the world in the series and didn’t seem to affect their play through the game.
The two teams now travel to Raleigh for game five, having given Carolina a chance to gain even footing in the series, Montreal must return to its game plan of slowing down the Canes and taking the attack to their end of the rink.
Down to a best of three series now, the Hurricanes can feel a lot better about their chances. The high scoring machine that led the East for parts of the season seems to finally be getting untracked, not a good thing for a Montreal squad that up until game three seemed to be in total control of the series.