In a game not as close as the score indicates, the Carolina Hurricanes absolutely destroyed the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, 9-3, in the third rout in a row for the red hot team from Tobacco Road. The Canes jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, then finished the game off with an awesome display of offensive power by scoring six unanswered goals in the second. They have now scored a total of 20 goals in the past three games.
Eric Staal led the team with four goals and had six points. He was helped by Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole who had five and four points respectively.
About mid way through the opening period, Carolina jumped out to a 3-0 lead within a time frame of just over three minutes. Eric Staal started the barrage after getting a very nice feed from Rod Brind'Amour while short-handed. The captain had stolen the puck near his own blueline and skated in toward the net. He found an open number 12 to his right, and fed him perfectly.
Staal added another goal just a couple of minutes later as Erik Cole created time and space for him while breaking into the offensive zone along the right boards. Cole got by one defender and drew another, leaving Staal wide open for the game's second tally.
Just 29 seconds later, Anton Babchuk fired in another blast as the defenseman continued his torrid scoring streak. He and Joni Pitkanen seemed to have discovered some good chemistry.
After Martin St. Louis tallied one for the home team, the Canes came out of the dressing room for the second period and scored, almost at will.
Joe Corvo started things off with a rifle shot from the point. Then Sergei Samsonov fed Rod Brind'Amour a perfect pass in front of the net and unlike the Calgary game, this time Brind'Amour made no mistake. It was a powerplay goal, the first marker in 29 games for Brind'Amour.
Samsonov then fed Tuomo Ruutu, who made yet another powerplay goal. Eric Staal then banged home a rebound from the side of the net off of the goalie, and added yet another on some nice passing from Ruutu and Cole. Ruutu finished off the scoring with less than 30 seconds in the period on another feed from Staal.
The team scored six times on 21 shots on goal during that period.
The third period was a waste, but at least no one got hurt for the Canes. The Lightning did score a couple of meaningless goals, but obviously the competitive nature of the contest had subsided, at least for the visitors. The fourth line of Conboy, Helminen, and Ryan saw a lot of ice time in that final period.
Next up for Carolina will be the New York Rangers on Monday night at the RBC. Did the team save up any more goals for that affair?
Eric Staal tied the franchise record by scoring four goals in one game. Ron Francis and Jordy Douglas each scored four while with Hartford. This was the first time a player had scored six points in a game so far this year in the NHL.
The team also tied a record for scoring the most goals in a road game. This was most recently accomplished in 1989 when the club was known as the Whalers.
The huge game gives Staal a total of 32 goals, which presently puts him 9th in the league in that category.
Nic Wallin led the team with five hits. Matt Cullen and Anton Babchuk had three blocked shots each. Five players were tied with one takeaway each.
Cam Ward continues to play well. The defense broke down in front of him on most of the goals allowed and the intensity was gone in the third period.