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Cory Stillman scored a natural hat-trick in the first period, Cam Ward earned a shut-out, and Eric Staal added two more goals as the Carolina Hurricanes buried the Washington Capitals last night, 5-0. Stillman's hat-trick won some lucky fan a tractor! (not the one pictured above.) The Canes powerplay cut through the Caps defense like a surgeon's scalpel. If they haven't got the number one powerplay in the league, it must be close to it. Stillman's natural hat-trick was the fastest ever scored in any first period in franchise history. It was the 2nd fastest ever scored for the franchise, (second only to Ray Whitney's beauty against Boston last year).

Needless to say, it was a lot of fun to be at the RBC last night! The game started off much differently than one might expect though. The Capitals were very hungry for a win and came out firing on all cylinders. They actually outshot the Canes 19-10 in the first period, but had nothing to show for their effort. Cam Ward was razor sharp, but to be fair the chances that he was facing were not nearly as potent as the chances that the Canes were generating down at the other end. Washington definitely missed their injured players which included Alex Semin and Chris Clark. Alexander Ovechkin was all over the ice as usual, but couldn't get any of his 5 shots on goal past "Wardo". I thought most of the team had a very good night except for Frank Kaberle who turned the puck over several times, once or twice directly in front of Ward. Although after looking at the "time on ice" chart, I see that Frank led all defensemen with over 20 minutes of ice time. Perhaps Peter Laviolette didn't see it the same way that I did! David Tanabe played as the 7th defenseman, but also served a few shifts as a forward. I'm sure he was happy to get some ice time, regardless of the position. Dennis Seidenberg left the game early after getting boarded by perennial goon, Donald Brashear. Brashear was awarded a 5 minute penalty and a game major. Hopefully, Seidenberg will be all right.

The Hurricanes lead the entire league in scoring with 58 goals so far! They now have earned 21 points which keeps them a safe 7 points ahead of 2nd place Florida in the Southeast Division. They are also currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, (behind Ottawa's 24 points) and have earned the third most points in the entire league! Obviously it's a great start to the season for the club and they will continue trying to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the division with these future inter-divisional match-ups this month. Next up is an ailing Tampa Bay, who has lost 6 in a row and has yet to win a game on the road all year (0-7). Let's hope the Canes keep it that way on Thursday night!

Tonight, Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford will be the guest on RBC Centura's new show, "Canes Corner". Mike Maniscalco will host the show beginning at 6 which will be broadcast live by 99.9 The Fan from the Village Draft House in Cameron Village. Come early, stay late, and ask the past NHL executive of the year a few questions!

Kenny Chesney