|NYI||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
Canes Give Fans Early Christmas Present
Flavor of the Game 700K
RALEIGH, N.C. (DEC. 22, 2006) - If any of the Carolina coaching staff or players say they've been happy with the team's power play over the last month, they were fibbing.
The Hurricanes came in to Friday night's game against the New York Islanders on a 4-for-51 skid over 10 games with the man advantage, good enough for 29th in the NHL at home.
It's a stat that had coach Peter Laviolette scratching his head at times.
Most in the locker room understand that a run at another Southeast Division title can't come without more production on the power play. That's why a convincing 5-1 victory over the Islanders was more encouraging than normal.
Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams scored with the man advantage in the first period - the first time the club has scored twice on the power play in a period in more than a month - and got scores from Eric Belanger and Scott Walker on the power play as the 'Canes broke out of an offensive slump.
"A few bounces," Cory Stillman deadpanned when asked about the potent power play. "They all weren't tic-tac-toe goals, but it's funny that's the way the power play goes.
"Yeah the power play scored, but a lot of credit goes to our defensemen," added Stillman. "We're a good team when we play as five and our defensemen come. When we move as five you can see a different team."
Erik Cole also scored 1:53 in to the second period at even strength as Carolina notched four power play goals for the first time in more than four years and scored four goals in a game for the first time since beating Boston 5-2 on Dec. 2.
"This is important because the guys are doing the right thing," Laviolette said when asked about the team's low scoring output recently. "When you're playing the game the right way you would like to see the results show that. Tonight we did a better job of cashing in."
Few will argue that the return of Stillman from shoulder surgery has been a major boost to the power play, creating more puck movement and scoring opportunities. But Laviolette has not sit still with personnel moves either, switching Brind'Amour and Glen Wesley to the point on the first unit.
"I think the power play has gotten lots of looks in the last two games and hasn't been rewarded, so it's nice to get a bounce and a break," said Laviolette. "There were good looks out there, good puck movement, and I'm starting to get a comfort level with two units"
Stillman had three power-play assists and now has six points in five games.
"It gives us two different looks and allows guys to play in different positions and ones they are used to playing," Stillman said when asked about his positive return to the lineup. "It's game No. 36, but its five for me and I've jumped in as fast as I could. I feel comfortable playing. Maybe I'm a little more rested compared than everyone else and it will pay off in the long run."
"Cory hasn't just been a difference on the power play, he's been a difference all over," said Brind'Amour. "He's one of the better players in the league at handling the puck and making plays. When you put that in your lineup it's pretty potent."
Brind'Amour, in his second game back after a lower body injury, had two power-play assists for his seventh three-point or better night this season, while Wesley added an assist on the Belanger goal.
Carolina gave up a season-high 48 shots in a loss to the Islanders a month ago on Long Island in what was arguably the team's worst performance of the season. It appeared from the start that Laviolette wasn't about the let the Canes have another poor game against his former team.
The Hurricanes came out buzzing, throwing 11 shots at Rick DiPietro in the game's first 7:32, putting on the pressure early and drawing some penalties that they were finally able to take advantage of.
The first period was also punctuated with one of the best fights in some time with Walker getting the better of Brendan Witt. Those who may not follow the Western Conference closely will forget that Walker broke into the NHL as a tough customer, drawing more than 130 penalty minutes for three seasons in a row with Vancouver from 1995-98. Witt also squared off with Mike Commodore in the third period for the first two-fight night at the RBC Center in quite some time.
Carolina can lock up its first four-game winning streak of the season with a victory Saturday night at Florida.
"We've just been stagnant all year and have not made a move," said Brind'Amour. "We're in a position (in the Eastern Conference) where we don't want to be. We need to put some wins together to try to get ahead of the pack."
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.
|PPG - Rod Brind'Amour (11) ASST: Cory Stillman (4), Ray Whitney (23)|
1 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Justin Williams (16) ASST: Ray Whitney (24), Rod Brind'Amour (27)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Erik Cole (14) ASST: Cory Stillman (5), Eric Staal (15)|
3 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Eric Belanger (7) ASST: Rod Brind'Amour (28), Glen Wesley (5)|
4 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Scott Walker (11) ASST: Cory Stillman (6)|
5 - 0 CAR
|Chris Simon (5) ASST: Jason Blake (17), Alexei Yashin (19)|
5 - 1 CAR
|Viktor Kozlov Slashing against Erik Cole|
|Richard Park Interference against Ray Whitney|
|Trevor Letowski Interference against Richard Park|
|Brendan Witt Tripping against Erik Cole|
|Brendan Witt Fighting against Scott Walker|
|Scott Walker Fighting against Brendan Witt|
|Mike Sillinger Hooking against Rod Brind'Amour|
|Mike Commodore Hooking against Chris Simon|
|Anton Babchuk Hi-sticking against Randy Robitaille|
|Shawn Bates Hi-sticking against Glen Wesley|
|Shawn Bates Hi-sticking against Glen Wesley|
|Mike Commodore Fighting against Brendan Witt|
|Brendan Witt Interference - Goalkeeper against Cam Ward|
|Brendan Witt Fighting against Mike Commodore|
|Sean Hill Hooking against Justin Williams|
|Rod Brind'Amour Roughing against Radek Martinek|
|Miroslav Satan Cross checking against Tim Gleason|
|Andrew Hutchinson Hooking against Eric Boguniecki|
|SA: 35||TOI: 59:57|
|Saves: 30||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 12|
|SV%: .857||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 25||TOI: 59:58|
|Saves: 24||EV: 15 - 16|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: .960||SH: 4 - 4|