Cam Ward in the Groove for Carolina: Hurricanes 4, Senators 1

The Carolina Hurricanes recovered from a slow first period in which they were out-shot 16-5, and scored two goals in each of the next two periods to take advantage of a tired and hurting Ottawa Senators team, 4-1 Sunday night at the RBC.  The Sens just lost the previous night in Florida, 3-0, and this loss was their fourth in a row.

The Hurricanes have now won two in a row and three of their last four, making this the closest thing to a "hot streak" the team has had all season.

A big reason for the hot streak is the recent play of Cam Ward, who looks like he is really hitting his stride.  The goalie is suddenly playing like it's the playoffs again and every save he makes looks easy as he's returned to playing positionally sound hockey.  Ward kept his team from falling behind in that slow first period when the puck seemed like it was in the Carolina zone most of the time.

The Sens did break through first on a point blank goal in the second period by Chris Kelly, but Brandon Sutter and Tom Kostopoulos would team up and answer that goal just 40 seconds later for the home team.  Sutter led "TK" with a perfect lead pass and the gritty forward dove on the ice stick first, to tip the puck into the net past goalie Pascal Leclaire.

Later in the period, Rod Brind`Amour took a pass from Patrick Dwyer as Dwyer skated around the back of the net, and rifled in a shot from just inside the blueline for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.   It was the second goal in three games for the captain as he now is riding a three game scoring streak, (2G 1A). 

Coach Paul Maurice is rewarding him with more playing time and Brind'Amour is making the most of it.

In the third period, the Canes did not back down and kept the pressure on.  Brett Carson would score his first NHL career goal from the point on a nice pass by Ray Whitney.  The puck bounced in off a Senator, but as Carson said after the game, "I'll take them anyway I can get them."

Just a couple of minutes later Ray Whitney would again play the role of playmaker, but this time he fed Eric Staal, who made a nice backhanded move on Leclaire to seal the deal for the Canes. 

It had been a long couple of days for Staal has he just attended his sister-in-law's funeral on Saturday, caught a plane from Thunder Bay to Toronto Saturday night, jumped on a plane from Toronto to Charlotte at 4:30 a.m., then flew to Raleigh later in the morning.  The youngster got a bit emotional after the game while talking about his wife's sister and his time with the rest of the family.  He thanked the organization for giving him the time off, but it's a topic the media probably could have left alone for a day or two.

The Hurricanes will skip practice on Monday and fly to Toronto for a show down with the Leafs on Tuesday night.

Game Notes:

  • Cam Ward was named first star of the game as he made 31 saves on 32 shots.
  • While the Canes were out-shot 15-6 in the first period, they turned the tables in the second and third, 13-6 and 15-10. 
  • Tom Kostopoulos has a streak of sorts going himself and has scored goals in three of the last four games.
  • The line of Sutter, Jokinen, and Kostopoulos looked very good out there together.  Once again, Sutter continues to amaze with his nonstop hustle at both ends of the rink.
  • Matt Cullen picked up an assist on the Staal goal and now has assists in four straight games.  The assist was his 100th while with the Carolina franchise.
  • Joni Pitkanen once again played a game high 28:48.  He led the Canes with seven shots on goal and was tied for best with two blocked shots along with Gleason and Wallin.
  • The youngsters from Albany once again played a solid game.  Patrick Dwyer led the team with seven hits and was all over the ice.  It seems like Jerome Samson has yet to lose a puck battle along the boards since he has been in Raleigh.  Apparently, Jiri Tlusty's strength looks deceiving because near the end of one powerplay, he was able to keep the puck in the zone by himself while battling against two Sens.  Zach Boychuk is still adjusting to the big leagues, but his speed is noticeable and he looks to break out with a goal anytime.
  • Tim Gleason and Niclas Wallin each finished with a team high +3. 
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