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Eric Staal and Cam Ward Keep Carolina Rolling: Hurricanes 4, Islanders 1

Eric Staal scored his eighth goal in his last five games, Cam Ward stopped 26 of 27 shots, and the Carolina Hurricanes won their third game in a row as they defeated the New York Islanders on Thursday night, 4-1. 

Staal earned his 400th career point in the contest as he also assisted on an empty net goal by Jussi Jokinen.  The center accomplished this feat in just 450 games.  The new team captain extended his current scoring streak to seven games and has 12 points in this streak. 

The Hurricanes jumped out to a lead again in this contest as Staal took a very nice pass from Brandon Sutter while on a powerplay and banged his own rebound past Rick DiPietro just 9:40 into the period.  The powerplay remains hot as the team finished 1-3 on the night and is clicking at 40% over the past five games, (8-20).  Staal has scored five of those eight goals.

Three minutes after that tally, Matt Cullen picked up a turnover in the New York zone and placed a perfect shot in the corner of the net to make the score 2-0.

The second period was a defensive struggle as neither team could get much going offensively.  The Canes out-shot the Islanders 5-3. 

Midway through the third period, Carolina was killing a penalty and Stephane Yelle got a nice breakout pass from Patrick Dwyer.  Yelle took the puck on a rush, shot it through Doug Weight's legs, and roofed another one past DiPietro. 

Late in the game with the score 3-0, many fans could not help but wonder if Cam Ward would get his first shutout of the season, but it was not meant to be.  With about four minutes left, Matt Moulson picked up a loose puck in the Carolina zone and beat the goalie with a wicked wrister to ruin the shutout bid. 

The last time Ward got a shutout was against these Islanders in April of 2009.

Late in the game, Ray Whitney dug out the puck along the boards and gave it to Staal who fed a hard skating Jussi Jokinen.  The Finn took the puck almost all the way to the empty net and flicked it in to finish the scoring.

The Canes will not practice on Friday as they rest up before taking on powerhouse Chicago on Saturday night.

Game Notes:

  • Ray Whitney joins Staal with a seven game scoring streak.  (2 goals and 7 assists).
  • Matt Cullen has 16 points in his last 16 games. 
  • Before this game, Cam Ward had a GAA of 2.22 and save percentage of .933 in his last 15 games.  Obviously, he improved upon those stats.  Ward has a lifetime record of 13-2-1 against the Islanders.
  • The Canes had 20 blocked shots led by Niclas Wallin who had four. Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason had three each.
  • Wallin also led the team with four hits. 
  • Pitkanen had 29:27 of ice time, leading both teams.  That is a lot of time on the ice for the second game of a back-to-back.
  • Matt Cullen had a team high five shots on goal.