Eric Staal netted a hat trick along with two assists and Chad LaRose added two goals and two assists of his own to propel the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at the RBC.
The hat trick was the 10th of Staal's career which is a new Hurricanes franchise record. That's just another of Hall of Famer Ron Francis' previous records to fall to the new team captain.. The hat trick came on free hat night, which precipitated hundreds of hats being thrown to the ice.
Staal now has nine points in his last two games. LaRose's four point night was a career high.
Jamie McBain also had an excellent game and chipped in with two assists. Along with Staal, he had a team high +4 on the night.
After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes captain started off the scoring just a minute and change into the second when he backhanded a rebound attempt past Montreal goalie, Jaroslav Halak. Up to that point, both Halak and Cam Ward made several fine saves.
Chad LaRose lit the lamp next. The winger broke into the clear, was tripped as he started to make his move, and still roofed a backhander past the Montreal goalie on a fantastic display of concentration.
The Habs made a game of it as Brian Gionta knocked in a goal later in the period to make it, 2-1.
But Staal would score his second of the night early in the third period when he received a beautiful pass from Jamie McBain. The young defenseman faked a shot, but fired a bullet of a pass to the center, who casually sent it past Halak to make the score 3-1.
Marc-Andre Bergeron fired in a shot from the blueline just 21 seconds later, but later in the third LaRose scored his second goal as he followed Staal in the zone and put back the captain's rebound. Jussi Jokinen got his stick on the puck as well and earned an assist on the play.
LaRose found Staal along the wall with a perfect bounce pass and the All Star flicked the puck easily into the empty net to complete the scoring.
The sell out crowd was electric and was as loud as a playoff game as they cheered for the team with gusto as the final minute of the season at the RBC clicked off the clock. After the game, the team and coach had nothing but praise for the fans who stuck with the team through thick and thin the whole season.
After the game, Chad LaRose said, "The crowd really deserved this, they have been behind us all year long." Eric Staal said much the same thing.
Coach Paul Maurice gave the fans credit as well. "You can see it and hear it on the bench. The fans get this team going and they go as the fans go."
The Hurricanes close out their season on the road against Boston on Saturday afternoon.
- Staal needs one more goal to hit 30 for the season which would mean that he would score 30 goals or more every year of his career except his rookie campaign.
- Jamie McBain continues to impress. He led all skaters with 26:58 of TOI and played in all situations. His one assist to Staal was a thing of beauty that many veterans can not make.
- Chad LaRose was skating all night like he was shot out of a cannon and was creating chances most of the game.
- Jay Harrison had a team high six hits. The Canes were credited with 30 for the game.
- Staal certainly had scoring on his mind. He also led the team with eight shots on goal.
Below is some video of Staal and LaRose as they were interviewed after the game.