Monday, April 24, 2006

The wind dies down

Carolina thought they were making the turn around, they finally managed to solve the Christobal Huet riddle, battled back after a horrible start and sent game number two into not one but two Overtime periods.

And then the wind just died down and the hurricane became more of a tropical depression (at least that's probably how they feel in the Carolinas tonight). The game started out much like the first one did, with Montreal controlling the play, scoring the goals and chasing starting goaltender Martin Gerber from the net after goal number three. Tossed into the fray in the first, back up and rookie goaltender Cam Ward, offered up a bit of backbone to the Hurricanes. Turning back Montreal shots with confidence and giving his team mates the opportunity to regroup and rethink the approach they’ve been giving Montreal thus far.

Whatever they discussed in the dressing room between the periods paid off, Carolina came back to the ice in the second ready to reclaim some of their respect, looking more like the team that topped the standings for a good portion of the regular season. By the time they were finished with their rejuvenation project, they held a 4-1 lead and seemed to have the Habs suddenly not so sure about themselves. Huet, who has performed miraculously at times for Montreal looked at times ordinary and definitely beatable. But just as quickly as things went awry, he managed to turn it back on and knock down the Hurricane attack shift after shift.

Montreal’s hard work paid off with a tying goal and then a return to lead only to see Carolina battle back and tie things up again as the third period wound down, Cory Stillman putting the tying goal behind Huet at 18:30 of the third. From there it was a period of scoreless OT, followed by a second period of Over time, brought to an end after just 2 and half minutes into play. Michael Ryder gave Newfoundlanders cause to cheer as he converted a pass from Chris Higgins to put the game away a final tally of 6-5 in favour of les bleu, rouge et blanc.

Higgins’s play defined the success of the Habs this series, he out hustled the Hurricanes in their own end, crashing into the corner taking the puck along the end dasher area and passing it out to Ryder, who converted the pass into a goal and victory.

It’s not hard to figure out which loss hurts more, Saturday’s embarrassment or Monday’s squeaker. The Canes were never in the game on Saturday, tonight they were in it full force, but yet the Habs got the breaks and made the breaks.

Tonight may have been one of those backbreaker losses that teams don’t come back from. There are no Hurricane warnings in Montreal, nor will there be need to post one for Wednesday night, sometimes the wind just blows itself out, something that may soon happen to the hockey team from Carolina.

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