by Kate Shefte
On paper, this should have been an automatic win for the Hurricanes; the Thrashers had lost their last five games and sat 25th place in the league. However, Atlanta came out wanting it more and Cam Ward allowed 5 goals on 22 shots, sinking the 'Canes to 8-5-2.
“They came out harder, and that’s why they got the win,” Tuomo Ruutu said simply.
Both teams exhausted the goal light in the second period with six goals between them. Brind’Amour scored 1:32 into second, just after a Tobias Enstrom penalty expired. He waited until Johan Hedberg went down and then popped it over the goaltender’s head. Sergei Samsonov received the primary assist; the winger is still waiting on his first goal of the season.
Atlanta’s Ron Hainsey tied it up at 10:04 when his shot went off the crossbar and in.
Eric Staal still can’t find the net, but he’s more than making up for it with it in PIMs so far this season. The usually disciplined All-Star center has taken 10 minor penalties in 15 games, second on the team only to Tim Gleason – and a large portion of Gleason’s penalty minutes have been “fives” for fighting. The Thrashers took their first lead of the game and never relinquished it after Staal took a tripping penalty and Jason Williams converted. The Hurricanes need Staal on the ice, setting up scoring chances, and unless Eric has some sort of mental powers we don’t know about, he cannot score from inside the penalty box.
After that, the game got out of hand. Ilya Kovalchuk scored and Reasoner tallied his second of the night, and the Hurricanes didn’t come out with the spark that they needed to get back in it after the second period.
A team usually cannot win – especially so convincingly – while winning only 37 percent of its face-offs, including 27 percent through two periods. However, Atlanta came out strong and sneaked in time after time with the Hurricanes pushing too far forward in the offensive zone. Thankfully, not many saw this loss; the announced Sunday afternoon crowd was only 12,398, 7,000 less than the RBC Center is capable of holding, and the game was not televised.