Commentary

DeCock: Corvo earns his keep against Flyers

ldecock@newsobserver.comFebruary 9, 2013 

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Tim Brent and Joe Corvo of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate's Corvo's third-period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 9, 2013 in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 4-3 in overtime.

DREW HALLOWELL — Getty Images

— During his time in press-box exile, Joe Corvo considered what he needed to do when he got another chance. He came to the conclusion that if he got more aggressive, the rest of his game would come around.

Corvo got his chance to play again Saturday, and it was his third-period goal that secured a point for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, with Daniel Briere scoring the game-winner. Corvo ended up with a goal and an assist, took seven shots and was plus-2 in more than 20 minutes of ice time.

“I’ve spent a lot of time the last week about what I can do differently when I get back in the lineup,” Corvo said. “One of the things was just trying to get more involved with what’s going on and a little bit stronger defensively, but that stuff takes care of itself if I’m jumping into plays and making good plays with the puck. I just tried to focus on that.”

It was Corvo’s first action since a three-game stint as a healthy scratch, replacing Jamie McBain in the lineup. McBain was minus-2 in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win in Ottawa and was caught flat-footed at the Carolina blue line on the Senators’ first goal. Corvo had a difficult start to the season, to say the least, but McBain’s performance opened the door for Corvo’s return and he made the most of it.

A mere 17 seconds into the game, Corvo took the shot off an Eric Staal faceoff win that led to a big rebound and Jiri Tlusty’s first goal of the season. Staal extended his point streak to eight games as well.

Then midway through the third period, Corvo’s shot from the right point deflected over Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and slid across the goal line to tie the score 3-3.

“(Corvo) is a veteran guy, and coming in here it’s a hard place to play,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “We said he needed to elevate his game and bring that experience to our back end. I thought he had a really good game today, his best game of the year.”

Jeff Skinner also scored for the Hurricanes, who killed off an extended Philadelphia power play after a major penalty on Tim Wallace for boarding in the first period. Cam Ward, who made 28 saves, was sharp then and throughout, making a point-blank save on Matt Read at the end of regulation to preserve the point.

Muller wrote off Briere’s goal as a goal-scorer’s goal — Briere fired a shot that went off the post to Ward’s right, off Ward’s back and in — but he was concerned about the others, particularly the two Philadelphia goals where the Flyers outfought Carolina defensemen for deflections.

“All in all, we pick up a point here on the road, on a long road trip, which is great,” Muller said. “We trailed the whole game, never had the lead, and I thought we battled in the third, but defensively we have to continue to win more battles and defend better.”

Joni Pitkanen and Justin Faulk continue to play well and were paired together Saturday, but the mistakes with and without the puck by Carolina defensemen continue to be costly. The pairing of Jay Harrison and Bobby Sanguinetti was on the ice for three of Philadelphia’s four goals, and Sanguinetti sat most of the third period.

Getting more productive minutes from Corvo is a big step toward stabilizing that blue line going forward. If Corvo can continue to play like this, it might mean as much to the Hurricanes in the long run as getting a point on the road did Saturday.

DeCock: ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock, (919) 829-8947

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