|NYI||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|CAR||3||3||3||(0 - 0)||9|
A malaise was quite possible, considering the Carolina Hurricanes had clinched a playoff spot in their last game and the worst team in the NHL was coming to town.
Instead, the Canes remained a determined bunch pushing hard for home-ice advantage in the postseason, continuing a record-setting stretch by steamrolling the New York Islanders 9-0 on Tuesday night.
It was the most lopsided win since the team moved from Hartford to North Carolina in 1997 and the 57-12 shot differential was a franchise record – one of many set on this night of domination.
“We’re playing the right way, at a high, competitive level,” said Eric Staal, one of three players registering a four-point night. “We’re playing like a well-oiled machine. When you’re confident and doing the right things you are going to get good results and nights like tonight.”
Well, maybe not nine-goal wins, but the Canes are 13-1-2 in their last 16 games and have outscored opponents 36-15 to tie a franchise record with a ninth straight victory.
Carolina remained tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia with 97 points each, but the Flyers have a game in hand in the race for home ice in the playoffs.
“I don’t ever remember playing in a game like that,” said Tuomo Ruutu, who had two of Carolina’s three third-period power play goals.
Coach Paul Maurice said it was a difficult game to coach from the middle of the second period on, but said he used his top-end players late in the game after New York began to take some physical liberties.
“I put our better players on the ice on most power plays in the third period because I didn’t like the penalties they were taking,” Maurice said. “Had they just been hooking or interference I wouldn’t have run it up. But as coaches we’ve got to have some recourse to handle a game like that. We don’t want it to turn stupid. I thought our bench handled it well.”
Staal notched a single-season franchise record with his fourth hat trick of the season and Cam Ward recorded a record 39th victory as the Canes won for the 12th straight time at home and ninth overall. The nine consecutive victories tied the franchise record set twice during the 2006 Stanley Cup winning season.
The Canes also remained hot in their alternative black uniforms, winning for the sixth straight time.
Babchuk now has 19 points in his last 22 games, while Cole has 15 points in 15 games since re-joining the Canes at the NHL trade deadline.
“We just continued to play our game, stay with our game plan,” Babchuk said. “No matter who we play against we’ve got to get ready for the playoffs and we need the points for home ice advantage.”
Carolina went up 3-0 in the first and then poured it on in the second, peppering New York goalie Yann Danis with 23 shots for three more goals, including two by Staal, who moved within a goal of 40 with two regular-season games left.
“There was always that fear (of a letdown),” Staal said. “We talked about it quite a bit and Mo made sure before the game that we were going to be ready. We were focused on a few areas of our game that maybe weren’t as good as they have been the last couple of games. We showed some good results.”
Since losing consecutive home games by 5-0 and 5-1 scores in mid February, the Canes are 18-4-2 as the hottest team in the NHL.
Ward has been spectacular during his streak of 27 straight starts, but it was almost like a night off as he faced just eight shots through the opening 40 minutes, improving to 19-6-2 over his recent stretch of consecutive starts.
Carolina had dominated the Islanders in the first period in three previous games and this one was no different with the Canes bolting to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Dwight Helminen scored his second career goal when he tipped in a shot by Dennis Seidenberg after a turnover by the Islanders. Staal added his team-leading 37th six minutes later and Scott Walker capped off a superior period by jumping on his own rebound off the back wall with 38.2 seconds left.
On the other end of the ice, Ward faced just six shots without any serious scoring threats by the lowest scoring team in the league.
“This is a good feeling, but the playoffs are a different story and we’ve got to keep this thing going,” Staal said.
“We came out and skated very hard, our forwards did exactly what we hoped they would do,” added Maurice. “We hunted the puck down and we didn’t give up a whole lot. We were sharp and they weren’t great.”
NOTES: Carolina has outscored the Islanders 10-1 this season in the first period. … Joe Corvo missed his first game of the season with the flu … Only Staal and Ray Whitney have played in all 80 games … Frank Kaberle, a healthy scratch in 14 of the last 15 games, registered his first point since Jan. 10 with an assist on Staal’s first-period goal and the defenseman also scored in the third. … Carolina is 22-2-2 when Staal scores a goal. … Staal’s eight career hat tricks leaves him one shy of the franchise record of nine, held by Ron Francis. … Whitney reached the 50-assist plateau for the third time in his career and second time in four seasons with Carolina. … Ward’s 12th career shutout moved him into third place all-time on the franchise list behind Mike Liut’s 13 and Arturs Irbe’s 20. … Staal and Whitney are tied for the team scoring lead at 74 with two games left.
|Dennis Seidenberg (5) Slapshot - ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 CAR
|Eric Staal (37) Wrist shot - ASST: Erik Cole (21), Frantisek Kaberle (7)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Scott Walker (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Eric Staal (35), Anton Babchuk (15)|
3 - 0 CAR
|Eric Staal (38) Backhand shot - ASST: Erik Cole (22), Dennis Seidenberg (24)|
4 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Rod Brind'Amour (16) Wrist shot - ASST: Jussi Jokinen (19), Dennis Seidenberg (25)|
5 - 0 CAR
|Eric Staal (39) Wrist shot - ASST: Erik Cole (23), Anton Babchuk (16)|
6 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Tuomo Ruutu (25) Wrist shot - ASST: Anton Babchuk (17), Ray Whitney (50)|
7 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Frantisek Kaberle (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Sergei Samsonov (32), Jussi Jokinen (20)|
8 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Tuomo Ruutu (26) Backhand shot - ASST: Anton Babchuk (18), Erik Cole (24)|
9 - 0 CAR
|Bruno Gervais Tripping against Eric Staal|
|Richard Park Hi stick - double minor against Eric Staal|
|Tim Jackman Slashing against Tim Gleason|
|Mitchell Fritz Hooking against Dwight Helminen|
|Mark Streit Cross checking against Tim Conboy|
|Brendan Witt Cross checking against Rod Brind'Amour|
|Tim Conboy Fighting (maj) against Joel Rechlicz|
|Joel Rechlicz Misconduct (10 min) against Tim Conboy|
|Joel Rechlicz Fighting (maj) against Tim Conboy|
|Joel Rechlicz Instigator against Tim Conboy|
|Sean Bergenheim Hooking against Joni Pitkanen|
|Mitchell Fritz Roughing against Tim Conboy|
|Patrick Eaves Tripping against Tim Jackman|
|Frans Nielsen Slashing against Rod Brind'Amour|
|SA: 10||TOI: 20:00|
|Saves: 7||EV: 3 - 6|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 4|
|SV%: .700||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 47||TOI: 40:00|
|Saves: 41||EV: 22 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 19 - 23|
|SV%: .872||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 12||TOI: 59:58|
|Saves: 12||EV: 11 - 11|
|PIM: 0||PP: 0 - 0|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 1 - 1|