LETHBRIDGE - The Hurricanes used a hot power play as they battled to beat the Edmonton Oil Kings 6-3 Friday night at the ENMAX Centre.
Not a good start for Lethbridge in this one. The Oil Kings would get an early power play and just over a minute into the game, Mark Pysyk floated a knuckle-baller shot through to the Hurricanes goal. That handcuffed Brandon Anderson and it gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead. It was another slow start for Lethbridge, but despite that the Hurricanes would find their legs and get the equalizer on a man advantage of their own. Brody Sutter ended up finding the back of the net for his 13th goal of the year. That tied things up at 1-1. Before the end of the period, the Hurricanes would take the lead. Max Ross fired a loose puck by Edmonton goalie Jon Groenhyede for his 14th goal season. That gave Lethbridge a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. The Oil Kings held the edge in shots on goal 15-12.
In the second, the Oil Kings would get another early power play and evened the score at 2-2. With just seconds remaining in a man advantage, Edmonton's Dylan Wruck hammered a one-timer past Anderson and that tied the game up. Lethbridge though would regain it's one-goal lead before the mid-way point of the period. On a 5-on-3 power play, Landon Oslanski wired a point shot for his 7th goal of the season and that gave the home team a 3-2 lead. A minute later the Hurricanes would get another one on the back-side of the two-man advantage. Derek Ryckman tapped home the puck by Groenheyde to give Lethbridge a 4-2 lead. That was Ryckman's 4th goal of the year and second in the last week. Edmonton would make a goaltending change after that goal. Laurent Brossiot would replace Groenheyde in the Edmonton crease for the rest of the period. The Oil Kings still held the edge in shots on goal 24-20 after 40 minutes of play.
In the third, Edmonton would put their starter back in goal as Groenheyde would get the nod by the Oil Kings coaching staff to get back into the game. The Hurricanes would end up jumping into a three-goal lead when Austin Fyten drove strong to the Edmonton goal, cut hard to the crease and beat Groenheyde for his 23rd goal of the season. The Hurricanes would take a 5-2 with that goal. The Oil Kings managed to get one of those back on yet another power play. This time Cam Abney put the puck in after a mad scramble at the side of the Canes' goal. That cut the Lethbridge lead to 5-3. With just over two minutes left in the game, Edmonton would pull the goalie to get the extra man out, but Cam Braes would score his 29th goal of the year into an empty net and that would seal the deal as the Hurricanes would go on to win the contest 6-3. Edmonton out shot Lethbridge 36-31. The power plays for both teams were excellent. The Hurricanes went 3 for 6 while Edmonton was 3 for 5.
The Hurricanes power play was clearly the difference in this game. Three goals on the man advantage was huge. It was the Hurricanes 21st win of the year, surpassing the team's entire win total all of last season and with 55 points, they move into a tie with Prince Albert for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Canes' have made up a lot of ground on the Raiders in the last 14 days and are really making this quite the battle for the final playoff spot. The Canes' have earned points in their last five straight games. You've got to give Lethbridge some props here. A week ago, making the post-season didn't look too good, but they've managed to find a way to dig deep lately and get some much needed victories with their backs up against the wall. Personally, I think this stretch of five or so games has been some of the best, most entertaining hockey this team has played since early in October.
SEASON TICKET SALES UPDATE
I've been told the Hurricanes 25% off season ticket offer for their 25th anniversary season this fall is moving swiftly. I don't have any numbers, but I'm told ticket sales are two-and-a-half months ahead of the pace at this same time last year. For more information on the ticket drive, visit the Canes' website by clicking the 25th anniversary logo on the left on the blog.
The Hurricanes and Oil Kings will play again Saturday night, this time at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Game time is is 7:00 pm (MST). The pre-game show on CJOC at 6:30. After that, it's off to B.C. for the next week as the Hurricanes open the March portion of their schedule in Chilliwack on Wednesday. They play in Kamloops March 4th and in Kelowna March 5th. The Canes' next home game is set for Wednesday, March 9th when they host Moose Jaw.
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