Atlanta
Thrashers
34-40-8
Carolina
Hurricanes
43-33-6

26 SOG
35 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
ATL
CAR
game recap

Hurricanes 7, Thrashers 1

Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 2:09 AM

David Droschak

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Hurricanes 7, Thrashers 1
Atlanta Thrashers 1, Carolina Hurricanes 7

Eric Staal has carried the Carolina Hurricanes for the better part of the last month. He showed up in a big way again in the biggest game of the season to date.

With the Washington Capitals breathing down their necks in a tight battle for the Southeast Division crown, the Canes and Staal defeated Atlanta with a purpose and resolve the two have shown just about every night down the stretch en route to a 7-1 victory over the Thrashers on Friday night.

Staal led the offensive outburst with three points and a Carolina record 12 shots on goal as the Hurricanes scored the game’s first four goals and five overall on the power play to win the season series against the Thrashers 6-1-1.

“I was just trying to shoot from everywhere, find those lanes,” said Staal, who had six shots in each of the first two periods. “That was our emphasis, throw pucks at the net and attack, attack. It worked out well and we generated a lot of offense.”  

More importantly, the Hurricanes now lead the Southeast by four points with four games remaining, including a showdown at Washington on Tuesday, after going 9-1-1 over their last 11 games. The Canes also travel to Tampa Bay on Saturday.  

“We could feel the energy in the locker room before the game even started, that we were going to be ready to play and fired up, and we came out hard, we came out flying and went right after them until the end,” Staal said. “Getting that one to get us started was nice and we just rolled from there.”

Staal proved to be a one-man wrecking crew against Atlanta this season, getting seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in eight games.

And since bottoming out Feb. 21 with a mediocre power play, the Canes have now scored a man-advantage goal in 11 of 14 games, including three or more three times to inch into the NHL’s top 10 in that category. The five power-play goals against Atlanta tied a franchise record.

“Special teams are big and they will continue to be big down the stretch,” Staal said. “It was just good movement and a lot of shots.”  

Cam Ward, starting his 16th straight game, improved to 12-2-2 during that stretch, stopping 25 shots.

In addition to Staal’s stellar play, Jeff Hamilton and Tuomo Ruutu each had two goals, Joe Corvo added a power-play tally and Trevor Letowski added a short-handed goal in Carolina’s three-goal third.

Carolina left little doubt which team needed this game more, bolting to a quick 2-0 lead less than eight minutes in after Washington had closed to within two points in the race for the division title. 

Staal scored on a rebound 42 seconds in for his 36th, then helped set up Hamilton’s blast on a power play. Hamilton now has four points in four games since being recalled from the minors.

“It was huge to get Eric’s goal, it kind of relaxed everybody,” Hamilton said. “We had a great start, a great first shift and we just kept following it up. It was a huge momentum boost to get that early goal.”

The Canes completed a solid first period with four penalty kills, including a brief 5-on-3 by Atlanta, which was outshot 13-7, including six by Staal, who played sparingly in the third after Carolina built its big lead.   

Chad LaRose returned after missing 21 games with a broken leg and played on a line with Ruutu and Letowski, making a nice pass on the Letowski goal while logging 9:45 of ice time.  

“It was phenomenal, words can’t even describe it,” LaRose said when asked about getting back into the lineup. “The feeling coming out for warm-ups, and being in the starting lineup, it was like being in my first NHL game. To be where we are and rolling with four games left we’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”

“Same old Rosie, he didn’t miss a beat,” Staal said. “It was good to see him out there skating hard and doing his thing.”   

NOTES: Staal has 11 multi-point games in his last 19. … Carolina improved to 18-8-2 against the SE Division. … Bret Hedican left in the first period with a lower body injury and didn’t return, logging just five shifts. Coach Peter Laviolette said Hedican won’t accompany the team to Tampa… Staal has 33 points in 30 career games against the Thrashers. …Carolina has scored seven or more goals four times this season.

scoring summary
1st Period
00:42
CAR
Eric Staal (36) Backhand shot - ASST: Erik Cole (26), Sergei Samsonov (21)
1 - 0 CAR
06:14
CAR
PPG - Jeff Hamilton (8) Slapshot - ASST: Joe Corvo (32), Eric Staal (42)
2 - 0 CAR
2nd Period
05:29
CAR
PPG - Joe Corvo (13) Slapshot - ASST: Erik Cole (27), Eric Staal (43)
3 - 0 CAR
07:50
CAR
PPG - Tuomo Ruutu (8) Snap shot - ASST: Trevor Letowski (7), Keith Aucoin (8)
4 - 0 CAR
16:53
ATL
SHG - Jim Slater (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Colby Armstrong (21)
4 - 1 CAR
3rd Period
10:09
CAR
PPG - Tuomo Ruutu (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Scott Walker (18), Frantisek Kaberle (20)
5 - 1 CAR
13:33
CAR
SHG - Trevor Letowski (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Chad LaRose (11), Tim Gleason (15)
6 - 1 CAR
17:51
CAR
PPG - Jeff Hamilton (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Frantisek Kaberle (21), Tim Gleason (16)
7 - 1 CAR
penalty summary
1st Period
01:41
CAR
Wade Brookbank  Roughing against  Steve McCarthy
01:41
ATL
Steve McCarthy  Holding against  Wade Brookbank
04:53
ATL
Todd White  Kneeing against  Jeff Hamilton
07:37
CAR
Erik Cole  Roughing against  Chris Thorburn
14:09
CAR
Wade Brookbank  Fighting (maj) against  Eric Boulton
14:09
ATL
Eric Boulton  Fighting (maj) against  Wade Brookbank
14:29
ATL
Colby Armstrong  Elbowing against  Glen Wesley
14:39
CAR
Erik Cole  Interference on goalkeeper against  Johan Hedberg
15:55
CAR
Joe Jensen  Too many men/ice - bench
2nd Period
02:20
ATL
Tobias Enstrom  Tripping against  Chad LaRose
02:27
ATL
Boris Valabik  Tripping against  Erik Cole
02:27
CAR
Erik Cole  Roughing against  Boris Valabik
03:31
ATL
Jim Slater  Misconduct (10 min)
03:54
ATL
Todd White  Hooking against  Trevor Letowski
03:54
ATL
Brad Larsen  Abuse of officials - bench
06:43
ATL
Bobby Holik  Hi-sticking against  Glen Wesley
09:09
ATL
Bobby Holik  Hi-sticking against  Tim Gleason
14:11
CAR
Keith Aucoin  Boarding against  Garnet Exelby
16:42
ATL
Joel Kwiatkowski  Interference against  Joe Jensen
19:27
CAR
Frantisek Kaberle  Tripping against  Steve McCarthy
3rd Period
01:47
CAR
Niclas Wallin  Holding against  Jim Slater
05:04
ATL
Garnet Exelby  Roughing against  Niclas Wallin
05:04
CAR
Niclas Wallin  Roughing against  Eric Boulton
05:04
ATL
Eric Boulton  Cross checking against  Wade Brookbank
05:04
CAR
Wade Brookbank  Hooking against  Brad Larsen
08:53
ATL
Eric Boulton  Holding against  Joe Corvo
11:08
CAR
Chad LaRose  Hooking against  Niclas Havelid
12:11
CAR
Erik Cole  Holding against  Tobias Enstrom
16:43
ATL
Chris Thorburn  Tripping against  Glen Wesley
18:41
CAR
Niclas Wallin  Roughing against  Boris Valabik
18:41
ATL
Boris Valabik  Misconduct (10 min)
18:41
CAR
Chad LaRose  Roughing against  Eric Boulton
18:41
ATL
Eric Boulton  Roughing against  Chad LaRose
18:41
ATL
Boris Valabik  Fighting (maj) against  Joe Corvo
18:41
ATL
Boris Valabik  Instigator against  Joe Corvo
18:41
CAR
Niclas Wallin  Game misconduct against  Boris Valabik
18:41
ATL
Boris Valabik  Game misconduct
goalie stats
Johan Hedberg
Johan Hedberg
SA: 35TOI: 59:39
Saves: 28EV: 17 - 18
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 11
SV%: .800SH: 5 - 6
Cam Ward
SA: 26TOI: 60:00
Saves: 25EV: 13 - 13
PIM: 0PP: 11 - 11
SV%: .962SH: 1 - 2