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In order to get to .500 for the month of December, the Carolina Hurricanes would have to do something they haven’t done since mid October – win three straight.
The first leg of that goal was accomplished Friday night with a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, a game which saw the Canes outshoot the Bruins 37-21 and dominate the scoring chances while fighting off yet another key injury.
Eric Staal remained hot with his team-leading 19th goal on the power play early in the third, but the Bruins scored 11 seconds later on a turnover to close to 4-3.
However, the Bruins took a penalty for too many men on the ice with just under two minutes to play, giving the Canes the final power play and ability to kill the clock to become the third team in the Eastern Conference to hit the 20-win plateau.
Wins over Columbus on Saturday night and at home New Year’s Eve against the New York Islanders would give Carolina an 8-7 mark in a difficult month of inconsistency and injuries.
“Why not go on a roll here after Christmas?” said Cory Stillman. “For us, we’re either in third place in the Eastern Conference or you could end up being in ninth or 10th, so we’ve got to make some room here.”
“There really is only one way to win and that’s to play the game hard. We talked about that this morning,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Hard work is determining wins and losses. It’s almost that simple. I thought we worked hard tonight.”
|Mike Commodore (22) is congratulated by teammates Eric Staal (12), Erik Cole (26), Ray Whitney, center, and Niclas Wallin (7) during the first period of the Hurricanes' 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Friday. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)|
Chad LaRose gave the Canes a two-goal lead heading into the third period when he scored on a penalty shot late in the second after being dragged down from behind by Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman. LaRose missed a penalty shot a month ago in the
“I looked at the one a month ago against (Olaf) Kolzig and I had him to the backhand no problem, but I went to the forehand and tripped over his legs,” LaRose said. ‘So, I figured Thomas was far out and if I could beat him to the back post we would have a goal.”
LaRose’s goal was just the fifth shorthanded penalty shot score in franchise history.
“That was a big goal for him to score, for the team to score,” Stillman said.
The Canes registered seven shots on a four-minute high-sticking penalty early in the second period, but couldn’t beat Thomas. The call came about a minute after the initial hit on Dennis Seidenberg in which both referees missed the penalty but were informed of the infraction by one of the linesmen at the first stoppage of play.
Minutes later, Bret Hedican joined Carolina’s long laundry list of injuries this month when he left in the second period with a sprained knee after getting tangled in the corner with Boston’s Chuck Kobasew. He did not return. Laviolette said the veteran defenseman could be lost for 10 days to two weeks, depending on the severity of the injury.
“It gave us a bit of a boost,” Stillman said of scoring the first goal. “We moved our feet well and when we do that we’re on the puck. A lot of times hitting consists of putting the puck in a spot where a guy can finish his check, and that can result in turnovers. When we do that you can see a different speed in our game.”
Four minutes later, Mike Commodore scored his first of the season to give the Canes their second lead of the first period, getting a shot from the right point past a screened Tim Thomas. Commodore’s goal was his first in 25 games, dating to last March.