The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Dallas Stars by a score of 5 to 3 on Wednesday night at the RBC Center in Raleigh. The Canes jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period, and held on for the win.
Tuomo Ruutu scored a hat trick in the victory, the first of his NHL career. His third goal came with just five seconds left in the game, after Ray Whitney set him up perfectly for an empty netter. It did not come easily though as Whitney tried to set him up for an empty net chance a minute or so earlier, but ended up losing the puck.
The Stars took the puck, attacked the zone, and scored themselves, making the score 4-3. Whitney took a little flak on the bench, but had a better opportunity later on and the Hurricanes ended up with a happy ending, one of the few so far this season.
The Canes jumped out to a 3-0 lead with the help of Jussi Jokinen, who started things off with a powerplay tally on a rush. He received a nice pass from Bryan Rodney, who was just recalled from Albany. Rodney had a very good game and finished with two assists on the night.
Tuomo Ruutu scored his first of the contest just 1:44 later. The Finn backhanded the puck toward the crease, it hit off of Marty Turco, and then went in the net. It was not the best of nights for the Dallas goaltender as that looked like a soft one.
Eric Staal scored goal number three on yet another powerplay when Jussi Jokinen fired a pass across the crease and Staal knocked it in with perfect timing.
Steve Ott put in a powerplay tally for Dallas later in the period and the teams went into the first intermission with the score 3-1.
The second period was a sluggish one for the Canes as Dallas took control. They out-shot the home team 12-4 and scored another goal, this one by Brenden Morrow, making the score, 3-2.
But the Hurricanes came on strong in the third and used a consistent forecheck to keep the Stars hemmed in at their own end. About four minutes in, Ruutu would score his second goal as an apparent pass by the winger bounced in the net off of a Dallas defenseman's skate. Brett Carson earned his first career NHL point on the play.
The Stars would make things interesting when they scored after Whitney's failure to bury the empty netter, but Ruutu closed things out with his "hattie", and the Canes won for just the eighth time this year.
Next up will be the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida on Friday night.
- The three Finns, or "Three Amigos" were the three stars of the game. Ruutu was first star, Jokinen was second, and Joni Pitkanen, who had two assists and played a solid defensive game, was named the third. Was the news about them possibly opening next year in Europe a factor to their success?
- Whitney could joke about his mistake after the game, but if the Stars would have come back to tie the game and then win after he failed to shoot at the empty net, people would not have been laughing. Still, it's hard to blame someone for being a consummate team player. It's an unselfish act for him to turn away from two chances to score an easy goal so that he could help a teammate get a hat trick. Especially in a contract year! Whitney gets a star in my book.
- The Canes were given credit for 29 hits in the game. Andrew Alberts led the way with five while Tom Kostopoulos and Rod Brind`Amour each had four.
- The fourth line came close to scoring a few times and Brind'Amour had a couple of prime chances. If he keeps getting good chances, you have to believe that the scoring will eventually come.
- The team also had 29 shots on goal led by Ray Whitney with five. Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu had four each.
- Staal had a very good game and chipped in with a goal and two assists. He has 13 points in his last 10 games since returning from his injury.
- Carolina had 13 blocked shots. Joni Pitkanen had the most with three. The defenseman led both teams with 27:33 of ice time, which is a bit more settling than over 31 minutes like he had against Ottawa.
- The Hurricanes are now 6-3-1 when leading after two periods. They are 7-2-3 when scoring three goals or more and 1-17-3 when scoring two goals or less.
Here is some video of Tuomo Ruutu in the dressing room after his first career hat trick:
UPDATE: For those wanting to attend practice on Thursday, it has been moved back to noon at the Rec Zone. (It was previously scheduled for 11 a.m.)