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Monday, May 18, 2009
Second-period report: Ward, Canes gain some momentum

PITTSBURGH -- Another good period of hockey here at Mellon Arena. Nice pace, lots of good scoring chances and, unlike the first period, there weren't a lot of penalties to interrupt the flow.

Thought the Hurricanes produced a little more sustained pressure as the second period went along, mostly the result of a committed forecheck. They had a number of good chances that were the result of outworking the Penguins in their own zone.

Chad LaRose's goal came out of good work by the Carolina forward unit pressuring the Penguins into turnovers. Matt Cullen and LaRose have been among the more impressive players for the Hurricanes. That said, Cam Ward rebounded in the second period and showed he's not chopped liver. His glove stop on Bill Guerin after a lovely feed by Sidney Crosby from behind the net was a showstopper. He also made a nice stop on Evgeni Malkin on a Penguins power play later in the period.

That power play was courtesy of a call against Erik Cole, who pushed Hal Gill into Marc-Andre Fleury just as the Hurricanes looked as if they had tied the score. The fact no one complained too loudly from the Carolina bench tells you this was a righteous call by the officiating crew.

Speaking of which, nice to see my old high school buddy and now top NHL referee Dan O'Halloran working this series. In fact, there's a strange Essex, Ontario, triad at the Eastern Conference finals as Canes equipment manager Wally Tatomir, O'Halloran and yours truly are all from the small southern Ontario town outside of Windsor.

Early tote board on the Battle of the Staals: Eric is minus-1 with two shots on goal and has played 13:52 through two periods. Jordan is even with 12:27 in ice time and zero shots.

More from me after the game!