The Carolina Hurricanes scored early and often and took advantage of a sluggish Florida Panthers squad that just returned from Europe last week, beating them 7-2.. The Canes scored three goals in the opening period, added another in the second, and then popped in three more in the third as seven different players lit the lamp in the rout.
Newcomer Tom Kostopoulos got things started during a penalty kill and scored his first goal as a Hurricane after he stripped Bryan McCabe of the puck and broke in on Tomas Vokoun. The goal was Carolina's first short-handed tally of the season.
Just three minutes later, Sergei Samsonov fed Tuomo Ruutu a perfect backhanded pass near center ice which Ruutu took into the clear. The Finn beat Vokoun with a wrister to make the score 2-0.
The Panthers would then give up another unassisted goal as Jussi Jokinen picked up a loose puck at the side of the Florida net and stuffed it in to give the home team a 3-0 lead. The Canes out-shot the Panthers 16-5 in that opening period.
The second period belonged more to Florida, but Cam Ward was equal to the task. The goalie stopped try after try and his teammates were also able to kill off a 5-on-3 opportunity. Then at the 13 minute mark, Ray Whitney took a pass from Niclas Wallin and made it look easy as he faked out Vokoun and slipped it between his legs to make it 4-0.
The Panthers would finally ding the scoreboard before the period was over, but the damage was done. Florida had more shots on goal in that period, 17-9.
Peter DeBoer replaced Vokoun with goalie prospect Alexander Salak after Cullen scored in the third. (regular backstop Scott Clemmensen was not available due to family business). The Hurricanes took advantage of the rookie and scored two more goals.
Matt Cullen rifled a bullet past Vokoun just a minute and change into the period. Rod Brind`Amour would score his first goal of the year a bit later, and Jay Harrison scored his first NHL goal from about the same area Cullen scored his.
Michael Frolik closed out the scoring with about two minutes left in the game to make the score 7-2.
- Depth and balance has been a mantra of Carolina's all preseason. They showed it last night in spades as they had seven different goal scorers and 12 different players with points.
- The Canes played a very good game, but there is still room for improvement. They failed to score during a minute of 5-on-3 and went 0-4 while with the man advantage. The powerplay still needs some work.
- Carolina was called for seven penalties, putting them at 32 minors so far this year which is the most in the entire league. While the toughness and aggressiveness is good, they need better discipline. A more skilled team would score in bunches with that many chances. They went from being the least penalized team in the league last season to the most so far this season. What's up with that?
- Scott Walker was called for diving. Is that now mandatory every time the team plays against Florida? It seems like the Hurricanes only get called for diving when they play against the Panthers. And Scott Walker of all people? Wonder how many times in his long career he's been called for diving?
- The Canes out-muscled the Panthers at times and utilized their size advantage. The home team had 32 hits to just 10 for the visitors and they pushed the smaller team off the puck on several occasions. When is the last time the Carolina Hurricanes out-muscled a team?
- Andrew Alberts had five hits while Tim Conboy and Tim Gleason had four each. I would give Conboy the hit of the night as he wiped out someone along the boards, although Jay Harrison took a Panther out nicely right after a faceoff.
- Once again Aaron Ward led the team with four blocked shots. Gleason and Alberts had three each. In case you were curious, Dennis Seidenberg had one for his new team.
- Harrison's goal was the first in his NHL career and it was a beauty, beating the Florida goalie high glove side.
- Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists to lead the team last night and now leads the team in scoring so far this young season with two goals and two assists.
- Matt Cullen had another very good game and was named the game's first star. He was buzzing on the penalty kill, making life miserable for the Florida powerplay. His goal was a just reward for his hustle.
- Joe Corvo had a team high 22 minutes of ice time. Before last night, he led the entire NHL averaging over 28 minutes per game.
- For the first time this year the Hurricanes came up on the short end of the faceoff battle, winning only 45%. Cullen, (33%) Staal, (44%) and even Brind'Amour, (39%) had rough nights while Stephane Yelle finished with 67%, (8 of 12).
- Speaking of Yelle, with four minutes left in the game and with the score 7-1, he was still diving on the ice trying to block shots during a penalty kill. This is the type of player you need if you want to make it deep in a playoff run.
- The club was all business in the locker room after the game. You could never tell by looking at them what the final score was. This is an experienced, even keel group which will not get too high or too low after wins or losses.
- Disappointing crowd of only 13,597, much lower than Tuesday night.
- The "Junior Canes" had a good night in Albany as well Friday, beating Portland, 5-2. Zach Boychuk had a goal and two assists, Brandon Sutter had a goal and an assist, and Drayson Bowman scored his second goal of the year. The Rats are now 1-1 and will play again Saturday night as Mike Murphy is expected to make his debut.