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With the Canes clinging to a one-goal lead and memories of two straight blown third-period road leads fresh on their mind, LaRose sealed it on a breakaway with 12:59 left as the Hurricanes held off the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Monday night, returning home to the RBC Center with a win following a successful six-game road trip.
The Canes improved to 4-0-1 this season against teams from
LaRose beat Roberto Luongo high on the glove side after Rod Brind’Amour’s brilliant pass from deep in his own zone to give
“I was coming in fast on him and when I got close he started backing in closer to the net and it was just there,” said LaRose, who notched his second career game winner. “I didn’t shoot it very hard, but it looked like he thought I was going to the backhand.”
The Canes sealed it when Ray Whitney scored an empty power-play goal after the Canucks were called for too many men on the ice the first time Luongo tried to leave for an extra attacker.
LaRose is one of the feel-good stories so far for the Canes, who remain atop the Southeast Division. A fourth-line player and penalty killer most of his career, the 25-year-old from Michigan is taking advantage of an opportunity to play with Brind’Amour and Justin Williams while Andrew Ladd is on the shelf with an ankle injury.
“I’m so excited I’m having trouble sleeping at night,” said LaRose, who has five points in nine games. “I am so excited for every day to come to the rink and be in the room with these guys.”
Cam Ward remained undefeated in regulation, going 5-0-2 in his first seven starts while lowering his 1.97 goals against average he started the game with. Ward lost his shutout bid with 6:41 left when Brendan Morrison banged one home.
“I’ll get one here sooner or later,” Ward said of a shutout. “But as I said at the beginning of the season, it’s all about the win column. We’re playing some really good hockey. You never want to look back on the season and wish you had a better effort here or there. Every game is really valuable.”
Ward also wanted to talk about LaRose.
“It’s exciting watching him play because he works so hard,” said Ward. “That’s the Chad LaRose I see in practice, top glove all the time.”
Cory Stillman notched his third of the season just 27 seconds into Carolina’s fourth power play early in the second period, blasting one past Luongo from the right circle with Brind’Amour parked in front for a 1-0 lead.
The score came three minutes after an apparent goal by LaRose was waved off by referee Wes McCauley, who told coach Peter Laviolette that LaRose crashed into Luongo before the puck trickled to the back of the cage.
“I wanted to get another one. I knew our line wasn’t going to get stopped,” said LaRose. “We had to keep pushing. Yeah, it was poetic justice. We’ll take it and we’ll take two points.”
It was the first time in six games the Canes were held scoreless in the first period.
With Scott Walker, Erik Cole and Ladd all out of the lineup, Laviolette played call-up Ryan Bayda with Matt Cullen and Whitney, while Jeff Hamilton played with Eric Staal and Stillman. Keith Aucoin, who came up from the minors with Bayda, was used sparingly on the fourth line with Trevor Letowski and Craig Adams.
“There are some bumps and bruises going on in the training room right now,” said Laviolette. “To establish yourself as a good team you have to fight your way through injuries and I thought guys stepped up -- the veteran players stepped up, the guys in new roles and the call-ups. I thought it was a really positive team effort for us.”