The Carolina Hurricanes lit the lamp 8 times last night and took advantage of a rusty New York Islanders team which hadn't played a game in a week. The Canes scored thrice in each of the first two periods, and then added 2 more in the meaningless third. Captain Rod Brind'Amour earned his first hat-trick since 2001, which also happened to be against the Islanders. Justin Williams and Ray Whitney scored two goals each, and Eric Staal scored a goal and on about the prettiest passing play that you will ever see. Cory Stillman gained possession of the puck just inside his own blueline and fired it down to the Islanders zone in what looked to be an obvious icing violation. Unfortunately for New York, Erik Cole was streaking down the ice a couple of strides ahead of the closest Islanders defenseman. The puck bounced off the end boards perfectly, right to Cole who gathered it and skated towards goalie Rick DiPietro. Erik then skated around the back of the net while Ricky D dived to the other side of the net to stop the ensuing wrap around tuck attempt. But when Cole reached the other post, he simply passed the puck over to a rushing Eric Staal who easily guided the puck into the open net. Stillman might be slow, but he is constantly thinking out there and just seems to know the perfect place to put the puck to create scoring chances.
The game was certainly a statement game for the Canes, who apparently were upset with their effort the previous night against the Habs. The score was 3-0 before the end of the first period and 4-0 before the New Yorkers finally scored in the 2nd period. John Grahame played a good game and picked up his first win of the season. It was another huge plus/minus game for several of the Canes as well. Erik Cole, Bret Hedican, Mike Commodore, and Ray Whitney were all +4. Obviously Erik Cole recovered enough from his injury so that he played and looked no worse for the wear out there. Ryan Bayda was re-assigned to Albany during the day, but apparently was allowed to stay with the team until the end of the father/son activities. It was a great rebound game for the Canes and now they get a couple of days off until their next outing in Florida on Wednesday night. For highlights of the game, check out this link to highlights.
Carolina is now a very respectable 7-2-3, earning 17 points out of a possible 24 so far this year. The win puts them 6 points ahead of second place Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division and 1 point behind Conference leading Ottawa. Great job so far!