Canes collapse in third period

Flyers score four goals in third period to force overtime and a shootout

Staff WriterDecember 12, 2008 


    How will the Hurricanes react after such a horrendous loss?


    While there seemed to be many, Scott Hartnell's third goal of the game cut the Canes' lead to 5-3 in the third period and gave the Flyers, and their fans, a big jolt of energy.



    The number of shots the Flyers took in the third period, scoring four times.


    1. Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia. Hat trick spurs big comeback.

    2. Simon Gagne, Philadelphia. Ties score late in third, then had winning goal in shootout.

    3. Eric Staal, Carolina. Two goals and an assist for Canes center.


    Carolina at N.Y. Rangers 7 p.m., Saturday, FSCAR

— Their uniforms were black.

So was their mood after the game.

For the Carolina Hurricanes, few things could be much worse than the 6-5 shootout loss they suffered Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center.

For the Flyers, few things can be more exhilarating than their biggest comeback win in 20 years.

Consider that the Flyers trailed the Canes 5-1 after the second period. About the only suspense seemed to be how many hot dogs the Wachovia Center crowd would devour on dogs-for-a-buck night -- the totals were updated and placed on the scoreboard, with a goal of eating 20,000.

But what really had the Flyers fans roaring was watching the Canes' seemingly insurmountable lead become, well, surmountable.

"We scored early and we scored often," said the Canes' Eric Staal, who had two goals and an assist. "We were all over them."

But Scott Hartnell, who had a hat trick for the Flyers, scored his second and third goals in the third to make it a 5-3 game. When Scottie Upshall scored with 4:52 left, it was 5-4 and the crowd of 19,057 in bedlam, sensing anything was possible.

"They just kept coming," Staal said. "They got the momentum going. We sat back on our heels and couldn't regroup."

With 1:44 to play, Simon Gagne tied the score. Soon, the game was in overtime.

The Canes, wearing their black alternate uniforms on the road for the first time, had their chance late in the overtime when the Flyers were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Staal had a pair of shots and Joe Corvo a shot, but suddenly Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki was unshakeable, unbeatable.

In the shootout, Gagne beat Canes goalie Michael Leighton with what would be the winning shot. After Tuomo Ruutu failed to convert for the Canes, Mike Richards scored, and when Niittymaki stopped Rod Brind'Amour, it was over.

The Flyers rallied from a 5-1 deficit to rip Detroit 11-6 in 1988. Now this. As for the Canes, the only consolation -- very, very little consolation -- was coming away with a point.

Canes coach Paul Maurice said fatigue in the third on the back end was a problem. The Flyers, he said, also were playing "no-risk" hockey with the score lopsided.

"At that point, they just don't care," Maurice said of the Flyers. "The game was lost to them, so they came."

Staal's goal barely a minute into the game gave the Canes a 1-0 lead. Matt Cullen, Sergei Samsonov and Joni Pitkanen all scored in the second period, and Staal's second goal made it 5-1.

"We were allowing their skill people to hurt us," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Staal looked like a man possessed. We were having a hard time containing him."

The Flyers seemed frustrated, parading to the penalty box. Pitkanen scored on a 5-on-3 and Staal on a power play.

"We had the big lead but maybe we were too passive," said Ruutu, who had three assists. "When you're standing still, when you stop skating in your own end, that's how they score four goals. A couple of bad-luck bounces and that's it."

The Canes move on to New York for a game Saturday night against the Rangers. The plan is to practice today in Philadelphia, then bus to Manhattan.

"We can't get too disappointed because we've already had some tough times," Ruutu said. "We've got to somehow stay positive."

Today's practice will be at Wachovia Center. It may be tough to have too many positive thoughts.

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