The Carolina Hurricanes continued their winning ways on the road last night with a commanding performance over the New York Islanders. The visitors scored the initial goal of the game, opened up a 3-1 lead in the first period, then never looked back as they dominated the league's last place team by a score of 6-2.
The Canes scored just five minutes into the game when Ray Whitney ticked an Anton Babchuk slapshot past Joey MacDonald. Babchuk had a very good game as he finished with 2 points, was a +3, had 3 blocked shots, and played over 22 minutes.
After Mark Streit tied things up with a powerplay blast later in the period, Ray Whitney found an open Matt Cullen in front of the net and the hot center faked out the goalie and roofed a backhander to give the Canes back the lead. Less than a minute later, Eric Staal scored his first of the night as his shot just managed to sneak through MacDonald's "five-hole".
The second period went back and forth, but near the 15 minute mark Tuomo Ruutu made a beautiful play passing the puck to himself off the back of the net and found an open Staal in the slot area. Carolina's leading goal scorer placed his shot perfectly in the upper corner of the net to make the score 4-1, and the rout was on. Then with just 16 seconds left in the period, Dennis Seidenberg took a nice pass from Patrick Eaves and scored another goal making the score 5-1.
Anton Babchuk was firing away this game, and about half way through the third period, Sergei Samsonov tipped another of his shots in the net to complete the Hurricanes scoring. Jon Sim scored a meaningless goal for the Islanders later in the period making the final score 6-2.
Next up will be a game against Tampa Bay at the RBC tonight. Can the Canes break a three game losing streak at home?
Eric Staal led both teams with 7 shots on goal. He is second in the entire NHL in that category. The center scored his 25th and 26th goals of the year. When Staal scores, the Canes usually win. The center also won 77% of his faceoffs, (10 of 13).
As mentioned earlier, Anton Babchuk had a nice game. Other than his two tipped in slapshots, he had another opportunity when he skated in on the Islanders goal and almost scored. Was he trying to compensate for the missing Joni Pitkanen?
Brandon Sutter was a healthy scratch for the game. No reason was given, but it's assumed that they are attempting to rest the youngster. He is not the bulkiest kid on the roster and he might have lost even more weight during the course of the season.
Tim Conboy played sparingly, (6:28), on the fourth line. He made a nice pass to Brind'Amour at one point, and almost scored a goal on another play. While the puck went into the net, Conboy made contact with the goalie and was called for interference. As soon as he left the penalty box, Tim Jackman jumped him and the two duked it out before Conboy slipped and fell. Jackman was given an instigator and tallied up 17 minutes of penalties while the Albany captain was just given 5 minutes for fighting.
Chad LaRose also mixed it up with Mike Comrie, of all people. While LaRose seemed to slip as well, Comrie probably ended up on top of that bout.
The night could not have worked out better for the Canes as not only did they win, but their closest rivals lost. A victory over Tampa Bay tonight would place them just one point behind Florida and Buffalo, two points behind Montreal, and three points away from the New York Rangers. All of a sudden they would be right back in the playoff race.