by Kate Shefte
RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—Those who thought the acquisition of Manny Legacé would spur Carolina victory were greatly disappointed Wednesday night. Another mental collapse after the upstart Los Angeles Kings pulled ahead again spoiled a two-goal night from Tuomo Ruutu and the ‘Canes went winless in their thirteenth straight game.
Paul Maurice was booed during pregame introductions, while Legacé received a loud ovation. The fans are clearly no longer impressed with Maurice’s snazzy ties and have started to turn on the ‘Canes’ fearless bench boss – how long now until he gets the can? Firing him won’t fix all the ills on this team, but some bloodletting would not go amiss. What’s Laviolette doing these days? (He’s a television personality now, in case you don’t pick up Canadian channels.)
Los Angeles outshot the ‘Canes 13-2 in the first and somehow wound up with only a goal. Chad LaRose made a diving save while Legacé was behind the net retrieving a puck to keep the Carolina newbie’s “innocence” intact.
One thing fans in attendance noticed about the ‘Canes’ new puck stopper – he likes to wander. Legacé ventured out of the net to nearly disastrous effect numerous times. Does somebody need a leash?
However, it took less than four minutes for Legacé to receive his official Carolina initiation – being scored on in an embarrassingly pathetic manner. Seven seconds into a Matt Cullen boarding penalty, the ‘Canes left Ryan Smyth stand in the crease completely undisturbed and waiting for the rebound. He pecked it past Legacé through the open back door.
Bryan Rodney and Joe Corvo chilled out in the penalty box just 10 seconds apart, giving the Kings a lengthy 5-on-3. The ‘Canes somehow managed to kill it off thanks to some timely saves from Legacé and incredible shot blocking by Tim Gleason, resulting in one of the loudest screams heard in the RBC Center this season.
Corvo narrowly missed a goal with a second left in the first and the ‘Canes left the period only down by a goal. But at the start of the second, a seemingly innocuous shot from Jarrett Stoll made its way under Legacé.
But the ‘Canes – well, a ‘Cane – came back. Just after a montage to his first game with Carolina flashed onto the screen, Tuomo Ruutu took a Rod Brind’Amour pass and surprised Ersberg with a long wrister from the point.
Ruutu struck again 4:03 into the third period, taking a Ray Whitney pass and snapping a shot on goal, beating Ersberg stick side.
Just after the ‘Canes got back into the game, Jussi Jokinen did a poor job of tying up his man, Randy Jones, and let him score in the exact same way as Smyth did in the first period – corralling the puck after it was sent through a passing lane the size of the Mojave Desert, with a wide open net waiting on the other side.
Walker crunched up against the boards late in the third and went fetal, then skated off the ice taking care not to move his left arm. This was on top of an “lower body injury” that sent Stephane Yelle to the locker room after he blocked a shot. It’s one thing to lose badly and consistently, but to lose a player every time? It’s beyond adding insult to injury. It’s mockery.
With just under two minutes left, Justin Williams got an empty-netter against his former team.
The ‘Canes could tie a franchise record – and as you probably have guessed, not the good kind – set in 1992 with its 14th straight loss Friday against the New York Islanders.