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'Canes Ground Thrashers on Ron Francis Night

Saturday, 01.28.2006 / 10:07 PM ET / News
By David Droschak
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\'Canes Ground Thrashers on Ron Francis Night
The Atlanta Thrashers never stood a chance on Ron Francis night.

With the former captain looking on and his retired No. 10 hoisted to the RBC Center rafters, the Carolina Hurricanes extended their franchise record home winning streak to nine straight with a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers on Saturday night.

The standing-room only crowd of 18,930 was jacked up from the opening warm-ups when the entire Carolina team came out wearing No. 10 jerseys to honor Francis, who played 23 NHL seasons and finished fourth on the all-time scoring list.

"All week I wasn't sure how it was going to go and how I was going to react, and I had a lot of sleepless nights leading up to tonight but it was kind of a remarkable feeling," Francis said. "I dressed with the boys before the game and I felt a sort of calm and when I went on the ice I was able to hold it together. It was a fun night."

"There aren't too many times in my career when I've had chills in warm-ups, but I did tonight when I stepped on the ice with that Ronnie Francis number on," Bret Hedican said. "He has represented everything in this community for hockey and he has carried the franchise on his back and kept hockey in Raleigh."

The half-hour Francis ceremony was moving and emotional, then the Hurricanes wasted little time jumping on the Thrashers, who also lost to Carolina 5-1 on Thursday night in Atlanta.

Justin Williams and Erik Cole scored less than 10 minutes in for a 2-0 lead.

"This night belonged to Ronnie and we dedicated it to him," said Williams, who also added an assist on Kevyn Adams' empty-net goal to close out Carolina's four-goal night."

Williams notched his career-best 18th of the season on a wrap-around shot that trickled into the Atlanta net, while Cole added his 20th on a nifty deflection off a shot from Frank Kaberle.

Carolina went up 3-0 in the second when newly-acquired defenseman Anton Babchuk blasted his first goal with the Hurricanes past Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen.

"I like to play on the power play," said the 6-foot-5 Babchuk, who was acquired from Chicago for defenseman Danny Richmond on Jan. 20. "I play on the point so when they give me those one-timers I just try to hit the net."

The Thrashers managed just 18 shots, mostly because Carolina logged nine power plays. Despite little action, Martin Gerber came up big late in the second period when he stoned Marian Hossa with a pad save on a 2-on-1 break.

Since 9-0 and 5-2 losses to Atlanta earlier in the season, the Canes have now beaten the Thrashers three straight and have improved to 11-5-1 against Southeast Division teams.

"Losing the first two to Atlanta kind of got us second-guessing ourselves," Williams said. "But we've come back strong and we just keep rolling along and go about our business. We're doing it humbly with a little bit of an edge."

The win improved Carolina's home record to an NHL-best 23-4-1 and its January mark to a remarkable 12-1 with one game left in the month at Montreal.

Cole credited coach Peter Laviolette with stressing the home ice advantage heading into the season and his teammates for taking it to heart.

"We used to be a pretty miserable home team two years ago," Cole said. "It was something Peter addressed, that it was too easy for teams to come in here and take two points from us, and we needed to be better at home and more aggressive."

With Ottawa idle, the Canes are now four points ahead of the Senators for the best mark in the Eastern Conference.

"I thought the guys played so unbelievably hard tonight to make sure we ended the night in the right way," Laviolette said. "The guys in the room really stepped up big and put their foot on the gas pedal. It was a full-fledged march into the offensive zone."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81