LETHBRIDGE - The Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a two goal first deficit and came back and beat the Calgary Hitmen 6-4 Friday night in front of just over 5100 fans at the ENMAX Centre.
The Calgary Hitmen would get the ball rolling in this game. Just over 3 minutes in, the Canes would take back-to-back penalties on the same play, sending Calgary on a 5-on-3 power play for two straight minutes. It only took 17 seconds for Calgary to take advantage of it. Victor Rask fired a shot beating Ty Rimmer, giving Calgary an early 1-0 lead. The Hitmen would get one more before the end of the period when Cody Sylvester snapped one by Rimmer to put the visitors ahead 2-0 after 20 minutes.
In the second, the Canes would hit the scoreboard for the first time. A bad pass by the Hitmen in their own zone was picked off by Macoy Erkamps. He walked in untouched and fired a lazer beam by Chris Driedger to cut the Calgary to 2-1. That was Erkamps' 4th goal of the season. The Canes would keep pressing and with 5 minutes left in the period the Canes would tie the game. Another bad giveaway by Calgary, this time at the Lethbridge blueline, send Jamal Watson in all along on a breakaway and he would score his 12of the season to even the scoer at 2-2. In the final minute of the period, the Canes would take the lead for the first time with a power play. Axel Blomqvist muscled his way out in front on the Calgary goal and snapped home his 5th of the season to give Lethbridge a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. The shots were 25-24 Calgary.
In the third, the Canes would make good on a 5-on-3 power play of their own. Ryan Pilon's point shot was deflected by Jaimen Yakubowski for his team-leading 27th of the season gave Lethbridge a 4-2 lead. The Canes weren't done there. Out of the penalty box, Josh Derko picked up the puck and skated in, blasting a shot by Driedger to give Lehbridge a 5-2 lead It was Derko's first goal in his first game as a Lethbridge Hurricane. It looked like that would be it, but Calgary staged a late rally to make it an interesting finish. Cody Sylvester would score his second of the night on the power play and then two minutes late Greg Chase scored to cut the Lethbridge lead to 5-4 with about two minutes to go. The Canes were able to hold off Calgary and Mike Sofillas would notch his 3rd of the year into an empty net to ice the game and the Hurricanes would skate away with a 6-4 victory.
The win improves the Canes to 23-21-16 on the season for 53 points in 51 games, still tied with Swift Current for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. Calgary out shot Lethbridge 37-34. Both teams finished the night 2/6 on the power play.
MAXWELL, DERKO, & DUKE RETURN
The Hurricanes saw the return of three players who've been out with injury. Russ Maxwell, Reid Duke and Josh Derko all suited up for Lethbridge Friday night. It was Derko's first game as a Hurricane since being acquired from Swift Current at the trade deadline. Defenceman Dan Johnston remains sidelined with a shoulder injury and will likely be out for a couple of weeks yet.
The Hurricanes will play a key Central Division match-up against the Rebels in Red Deer Saturday (Jan. 26). This will be only the second time this season these teams meet, with four more games in the next 6 weeks. The Canes are 3 points back of Red Deer in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Game time is 7:30 pm MST. The pre-game show on CJOC at 7:00. The Hurricanes play a late afternoon game Sunday in Edmonton.