|NYR||0||0||1||(0 - 0)||1|
|CAR||2||1||1||(0 - 0)||4|
Both players scored goals on Thursday night as the Hurricanes took a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers at the RBC Center. LaRose’s opening tally in the first period was his third in four games following a stretch in which he scored just one in a 25-game span, while Sutter broke a 16-game drought with his nifty breakaway finish in the second.
LaRose also added an assist on Jeff Skinner’s goal that iced the game with 4:09 left on the clock after the Rangers’ Brandon Prust spoiled Cam Ward’s shutout bid and made it a two-goal game four minutes earlier. It was a big outing for a player who also scored in the Canes’ loss against Boston on Tuesday, but followed that up with a costly penalty that led to the winning goal for the opposition.
“After the penalty he took and the result in the Boston game, he was going to come out and give you a great effort,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. “Chad enjoys the game and he has fun with it.”
Sutter’s goal that made the game 3-0 near the end of the second period came after Sergei Samsonov found him breaking into the offensive zone with speed. Sutter was able to gain the inside track on a defender before making a strong forehand-to-backhand move that saw him slide the puck in from along the goal line behind Rangers’ All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
“I’ve got that slump out of the way with, and now I can kind of move and get a little confidence back,” said Sutter, who last scored in Atlanta back on Dec. 16.
The Hurricanes as a whole were willing to be patient with Sutter’s offense, as his famously strong defensive play never tailed off. Sutter leads the team with a +7 plus/minus rating, which is all the more remarkable when one considers his recent lack of offense weighed against the challenge of going against the opposition’s most dangerous scorers night after night.
“He’s got the right character and the right mentality for the role he has to play for us to win and he’s a real good man,” said Maurice. “I’m sure (the slump) was getting to him, but like all those guys he started banging last game against the Bruins with a couple of big hits, and then you saw some more speed and some offense.”
“To be honest, I didn’t even realize that he was struggling offensively,” said Ward, who finished with 39 saves, including a huge breakaway stop on Prust in the game’s opening minutes. “He’s such an important player to our team. He’s going to be one of those guys that gets the Selke award (as the NHL’s top defensive forward), and I can see him being in the running for years to come because he’s such a good two-way player.”
After the Hurricanes followed a demoralizing 7-0 defeat in Boston Monday with a much better effort in the next day’s rematch only to still come up one goal short, Maurice said he was pleased that his team continued to build on the positives rather than be discouraged by defeat.
“We were worried about how we would come back after the beating we took in Boston, but we answered that question,” he said. “It’s almost more important (to play well against the Rangers), because it’s not like you wind yourself up for one game and then you go back to playing soft hockey.”
“We played two pretty similar games I thought, but maybe defensively we were a little sharper tonight, especially in the second half of the game,” said Sutter.
Thursday’s game pitted the league’s two most physical teams in terms of hits against each other, and there was plenty of ill will displayed. With the Canes up 3-0 at the time, there were two fights in a nine-second span in the second period as Jay Harrison took on Prust and Ryan Carter battled with Kris Newbury.
Late in the third following Skinner’s goal, LaRose and the Rangers’ Sean Avery looked to have a heated exchange, although nothing physical came of it.
Avery did become involved in an altercation with the Hurricanes’ Erik Cole before all was said and done, as the two tangled up behind Lundqvist, earning matching 10-minute misconduct penalties.
The Hurricanes will now enjoy an off day before traveling to Pittsburgh on Saturday. They have just three games remaining before the All-Star break.
NOTES: With two assists, Tuomo Ruutu has 30 points in his last 30 games … Jiri Tlusty returned to the lineup, playing 9:32 in his first game since suffering a shoulder injury on Dec. 16 … Carolina is 15-0-0 when leading at the second intermission … 22 of Jokinen’s 30 goals last season came after Christmas. This season, seven of his 12 goals have come after Christmas … Eric Staal recorded a game-high eight shots on goal and did not score, although Maurice said he played perhaps his best defensive game of the year.
|Chad LaRose (10) ASST: Jeff Skinner (22), Tuomo Ruutu (26)|
1 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Jussi Jokinen (12) ASST: Joe Corvo (16), Tuomo Ruutu (27)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Brandon Sutter (8) ASST: Sergei Samsonov (12)|
3 - 0 CAR
|Brandon Prust (6) ASST: Chad Kolarik (1), Ryan McDonagh (1)|
3 - 1 CAR
|Jeff Skinner (17) ASST: Chad LaRose (10)|
4 - 1 CAR
|Michael Sauer Tripping against Jeff Skinner|
|Joni Pitkanen Slashing against Mats Zuccarello|
|Jay Harrison Fighting against Brandon Prust|
|Brandon Prust Fighting against Jay Harrison|
|Ryan Carter Fighting against Kris Newbury|
|Kris Newbury Fighting against Ryan Carter|
|Ian White Hooking against Brandon Prust|
|Sean Avery Slashing against Joni Pitkanen|
|Sean Avery Misconduct against Erik Cole|
|Erik Cole Misconduct against Sean Avery|
|SA: 39||TOI: 59:48|
|Saves: 35||EV: 31 - 34|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 4|
|SV%: .897||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 40||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 39||EV: 37 - 38|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .975||SH: 0 - 0|