|TBL||1||2||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|CAR||3||2||1||(0 - 0)||6|
Ward, Staal Prove Double Trouble for Lightning
RALEIGH, N.C. (October 28, 2006) - Peter Laviolette will be the first to tell you pucks haven't bounced Carolina's way the first month of the season. That his team is still waiting to put things together, waiting for that complete game.
It came Saturday night against Southeast Division rival Tampa Bay as the Hurricanes rode a nearly flawless opening period to a 6-4 victory, enabling the injury-riddled club to reach the .500 mark heading into November.
A 5-5-2 mark and 12 points isn't a bad opening four weeks, considering the team lost more than 50 man-games due to a variety of injuries - and to a variety of key players. And, of course, let it not be forgotten that the Canes were also coming off a hectic summer with the Stanley Cup.
"I don't have a crystal ball to see the future, but a month like this really sets the tone for the year," said Laviolette. "With all great teams there has to be some adversity, you have to overcome something, you have to use something as a starting point - a rallying cry - and this month certainly has a lot of reasons you can do that.
"You need tough people to get through a tough month, and in that locker room is a bunch of tough people."
How perfect were the opening 20 minutes for Carolina? Well, the Hurricanes scored the fastest three goals in franchise history, breaking a 19-year-old record when Eric Staal, Kevyn Adams and Erik Cole scored 43 seconds apart to blitz the Lighting midway through the period.
Carolina also outshot Tampa Bay 13-2 and made the Lightning's power play look totally inept.
"A lot of these games are games within games, momentum within a game, and we were able to grab that and take it to them," Adams said of the scoring record.
The scoring barrage wasn't all the Canes threw at the Lightning, though. The Hurricanes put on a skating display reminiscence of that of last season's Cup champions, winning nearly every battle for loose pucks, finishing checks and forechecking with a ferocity that frustrated Tampa Bay.
"There's no question the first period was one of our best periods this year," Adams said.
Even when the Lightning rallied from a 4-1 deficit to close to 4-3 late in the second period, the Hurricanes answered in less than two minutes when Staal found Scott Walker with a perfect pass and he finished with a great shot.
Staal's performance was his best of the season. He was all over the ice, getting his first two-goal game of the year. It was one of those games when Staal got the puck, you expected him to score.
"I wish I felt as good as I did tonight every game," said Staal, who logged a season-high 23 minutes and 44 seconds. "Sometimes the legs feel better on certain days. Coach double-shifted me a couple of times early in the game, and I felt I got involved and was in the play. That contributes to feeling good on the ice."
In the first period after Tampa Bay had taken a 1-0 lead on its first shot, Staal raced back to beat Vincent Lecavalier to the puck behind the Carolina net and raced away from his rival center. He made a quick pass to Justin Williams before getting the puck back in time to swoop in on Marc Denis and let go a wicked low wrist shot that surprised the hot Tampa Bay goalie.
Denis had given up just one goal in four of his last six games, including a 5-1 wipeout of the Hurricanes two nights ago. But it appeared that Staal's goal shook his confidence and he was replaced after Staal's second goal, which the center banked off the skate of Tampa Bay defenseman Paul Ranger and past Denis for a three-goal Carolina lead.
"He was on his game," Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour said of Staal. "His first goal was at a bad angle, but he comes with so much speed I think the defense and goalie are not sure what he's going to do. That's why he's been getting those kind of goals from weird angles. He's a dominant player and you can see that."
Walker iced the game when he scored his second goal of the game 55 seconds into the third, giving the Hurricanes their second three-goal lead of the night. Walker got off to a slow start after coming over from Nashville, but now has seven goals in his last eight games, good for second-best on the team.
"It was really my first time being moved with my family and a trade so I was nervous, apprehensive," said Walker, who has 11 points in 12 games. "I wanted to come in early to try to meet the guys and show them that I was going to put in the effort to fit in and work hard.
"They went through a long battle with each other, winning the Stanley Cup and they are very tight, so I just wanted to let them know I was going to help out the best I can. I let them know I want to accomplish the same thing they did."
Rod Brind'Amour added three assists to move within five points of becoming the 71st player in NHL history with 1,000 points.
David Droschak is the former sports editor for the North Carolina bureaus of the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world. In 2003, Droschak was named the North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year. The only writer in the Triangle to have covered the Carolina Hurricanes every season since the organization moved to North Carolina, he currently is a principal in the Raleigh-based public relations firm Hughes-Droschak Communications.
|Vinny Prospal (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Paul Ranger (5)|
1 - 0 TBL
|PPG - Eric Staal (7) Snap shot - ASST: Justin Williams (7)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Kevyn Adams (1) Tip-in - ASST: Craig Adams (1)|
2 - 1 CAR
|Erik Cole (2) Tip-in - ASST: Ray Whitney (10), Rod Brind'Amour (10)|
3 - 1 CAR
|PPG - Eric Staal (8) Tip-in - ASST: Rod Brind'Amour (11), Anton Babchuk (2)|
4 - 1 CAR
|Ruslan Fedotenko (5) Tip-in - ASST: Filip Kuba (4), Vincent Lecavalier (5)|
4 - 2 CAR
|PPG - Vincent Lecavalier (5) Snap shot - ASST: Vinny Prospal (3), Dan Boyle (5)|
4 - 3 CAR
|Scott Walker (6) Snap shot - ASST: Eric Staal (6)|
5 - 3 CAR
|Scott Walker (7) Snap shot - ASST: Ray Whitney (11), Rod Brind'Amour (12)|
6 - 3 CAR
|Martin St. Louis (6) Snap shot - ASST: Filip Kuba (5), Dan Boyle (6)|
6 - 4 CAR
|Brad Richards Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|Niclas Wallin Roughing against Nick Tarnasky|
|Andrew Ladd Interference against Cory Sarich|
|Andreas Karlsson Holding against Chad LaRose|
|Vincent Lecavalier Hooking against Tim Gleason|
|Kevyn Adams Slashing against Dan Boyle|
|Eric Belanger Slashing against Martin St. Louis|
|Ray Whitney Hooking against Cory Sarich|
|Dimitri Afanasenkov Holding the stick against Ray Whitney|
|Mike Commodore Slashing against Martin St. Louis|
|Luke Richardson Roughing against Erik Cole|
|Luke Richardson Roughing against Erik Cole|
|SA: 17||TOI: 25:14|
|Saves: 13||EV: 8 - 10|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 6|
|SV%: .765||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 12||TOI: 33:34|
|Saves: 10||EV: 6 - 8|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: .833||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 23||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 19||EV: 11 - 14|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .826||SH: 2 - 2|