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Back in the High Life Again - Hurricanes 5 Lightning 1

The Carolina Hurricanes took advantage of a tired and listless Tampa Bay Lightning squad Saturday night and beat them soundly by a score of 5 to 1. Although the Canes gave up the first goal of the game in somewhat typical fashion for them, they came on strong afterwards and didn't let up the rest of the game.

It was a night for newcomers as Tampa's recently acquired Jeff Halpern started the scoring off for the visitors. After All-Star MVP Eric Staal tied the game up later in the 1st period for the Canes, a few of Carolina's new boys finished out the scoring as Sergei Samsonov added another 2 goals while Joe Corvo and Tuomo Ruutu added one each.

The win gives the team an outstanding 8-1-1 record in their last 10 homes games as well as a 4-1-1 record in this most recent homestand. The Canes have a couple of days off now until their next game which is in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Hats off to the Toronto Maple Leafs who beat the Washington Capitals in DC by a score of 3-2. That loss coupled with the Hurricanes win now pushes Carolina's Southeast Division lead back up to 5 points. Next up for the Caps is a red-hot Boston team in a game that will be on Versus Monday night.

This was yet another Carolina game in which everyone contributed to the cause. Tuomo Ruutu was moved up to the first line with Eric Cole and Eric Staal to take the place of injured Ray Whitney. Ruutu clicked well with his new linemates and scored his goal on a perfect feed from Staal. Fans are loving this newest addition to the team and have already started a new "RUUTU" chant whenever he does anything positive on the ice.

The 2nd line of Matt Cullen, Sergei Samsonov, and Patrick Eaves also played well. I think that this was the best game in a Hurricanes sweater for Eaves. Peter Laviolette allowed the 3rd line to stay the same as in recent games and Scott Walker, Keith Aucoin, and Ryan Bayda continued to do what they do best, cycle, cycle, and cycle some more.

The 4rth line of Wade Brookbank, Trevor Letowski, and Tim Conboy played many more minutes than they usually do. Conboy probably had the hit of the night when he lined up a Bolt mid-way through the 1st period, although Ruutu had another monster hit himself, later in the game.

The defense looked a little shaky for that first Lightning goal, but looked pretty solid afterwards. The return of Tim Gleason to the ice made a lot of difference because the older defensemen didn't have to log all the extra minutes that they had to against the Rangers. Joe Corvo led the whole team with 22 minutes of ice time. Cam Ward was solid again in goal, although he certainly wasn't worked as hard as Mike Smith on the other end.

It was another great effort at home, and yet another positive step as the team climbs it's way to the playoffs.

Steve Winwood