In a wild and wooley back and forth game, the Hurricanes were able to find the back of the net a couple more times than the Panthers were able to, and came away with a 6-4 victory Friday night at the RBC. The Canes had six different goal scorers and netted two goals in each period.
Dan LaCouture had the game winner on a pure hustle play as he knocked in a rebound on a shot from Nic Wallin. He had another golden chance earlier in the game as well. The well-traveled forward, who attended training camp as a tryout and just signed a contract this past week, also had a couple of good hits and stood up for his teammates when necessary.
When asked after the game how long it had been since he had scored an NHL goal, he smiled and replied, "I really don't remember, it's probably been a couple of years." If he keeps hustling like he did tonight, he won't have to wait another two years for a repeat.
The entire fourth line of Sutter, Brookbank, and LaCouture provided good energy and generated a few scoring chances as a group. Brookbank had a decent scoring chance of his own in the second period. The Canes will be hoping for more of that.
Brandon Sutter had a very good game in his NHL debut. He picked up an assist on the LaCouture goal and was a pest all night long on the penalty kill.
Eric Staal played on the other PK unit with Ryan Bayda.
The defense looked better on offense at times than they did playing in their own end. Tim Gleason had a career high three assists for the night. Joni Pitkanen scored his first goal as a Hurricane and ended up with a "plus 3".
Frank Kaberle had two assists while Dennis Seidenberg and Nic Wallin had one apiece. That's more scoring from the back end in one game than Carolina has had in half a season in year's past.
On the otherhand, the defense does need to tighten up a bit. A couple of times Panthers broke into the clear for wide open, point blank shots at Cam Ward. Nathan Horton had one on a powerplay where he skated in from the slot all alone.
Ray Whitney had a beautiful goal-scorer's goal and Tuomo Ruutu scored one on a tipped shot by Dennis Seidenberg.
Matt Cullen put the lights out with an empty-netter.
All in all, it was a high energy game with plenty of excitement and hustle throughout. If the Canes can continue with that kind of effort every night, they should be rewarded with success.
The Hurricanes were in a hurry to get out of the dressingroom so that they could catch their plane to Tampa Bay for Saturday night's game.
When asked if he thought the team would have tired legs in Tampa because they had played the night before, Ray Whitney quipped, "I don't think so , since this is the only game we have played in about six months. We should be okay for tomorrow night".