Defenseman Joe Corvo, seen embracing teammate Chad LaRose after slapping home his first-period goal Wednesday, has soaring confidence after scoring in each of Carolina's last two games. (Photo by LTD)
After two RBC Center games without scoring a goal, the Carolina Hurricanes exploded for seven against the reeling New York Islanders, moving back to .500 and getting several players back on the scoresheet — or there for the first time — in Wednesday's 7-2 win.
Here are five observations from the game.
1) Credit Paul Maurice for not allowing his team to let up in the third period. The Hurricanes came out of the dressing room overconfident after building a 5-0 lead after two, but the team seemed to lose its edge with such a big cushion. The Isles had already scored once in the period when Maurice had finally seen enough 4:51 into the third and used his timeout to let his team know that coasting through the final frame would not be acceptable. The Canes buckled down and managed to score two more times — while allowing another New York goal — en route to their most impressive offensive performance since they scored eight on Tampa Bay in the third-to-last game of the 2009-10 campaign.
2) After Carolina's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia, my five observations post mentioned the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of Sergei Samsonov. After struggling in a top-nine role Monday, Samsonov looked Wednesday like the player who has a reputation for dominating a game with his skills. His picture-perfect pass in the first netted rookie Jon Matsumoto his first NHL goal, and he set up teammates two more times for a three-assist night. That's not bad considering he started the game on the fourth line. The last time Samsonov registered three points was Feb. 7, 2009, when he had a goal and three assists for the Canes in a 7-2 win over Phoenix.
3) Speaking of the fourth line, Tom Kostopoulos joined Samsonov and Matsumoto to combine for a total of seven points and a plus-9 on the night, and the trio's play earned them each more than 10 minutes of ice time — significantly more than the Hurricanes’ bottom line has received this season. Their increased ice time meant no Carolina forward reached the 20-minute mark in the game, with Eric Staal leading the way at 19:41. Also, Kostopoulos' plus-4 rating was a career high for the 31-year-old forward with 470 games of NHL experience. It's just one game, but if the line plays half as well as they did Wednesday, a nickname might be in order. Given the varied nationalities of their last names, how about "The Embassy Row Line"? They could even have their own song, courtesy indie rock icons Pavement (bear with it; it picks up around the one-minute mark).
4) For the second straight game, defenseman Joe Corvo scored — and also looked as effective as he has all season. Like Kostopoulos, he was a plus-4 on the night (he last did that March 15, 2007, when with Ottawa, also against the Isles) and was able to pick up the slack for Joni Pitkanen, who was limited to 6:08 of ice time due to a lingering upper body injury (Brett Carson was recalled on an emergency basis from Charlotte Thursday, so expect Pitkanen to miss at least a couple games). He was on the ice for five of Carolina's goal and netted the first RBC Center goal of the season for the Canes.
5) Wednesday's game marked the 16th time Carolina has scored at least seven goals in a game since the lockout. The result in the game after such a big scoring night is varied: the Canes are 9-6 the last 15 times they followed up a seven-goal-or-more performance, averaging four goals for in the wins and four against in the losses. They shut out their opponent once in the next game, and have also been held scoreless once. The last five times Carolina has played following such a performance, the winning team has won by three goals or more — Carolina won two of those games and lost three.