The Carolina Hurricanes came into Russia to take on SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL in what was supposed to be a friendly, meaningless, exhibition game between two teams trying to create good will for two rival leagues. Instead, it turned into a chippy, penalty filled affair in which the Carolina coach ended up refusing to play his star athlete because of fear of injury.
"It seemed like they were getting closer and closer to his (Eric Staal's) knees and there wasn't a big concern on the ice about it," coach Paul Maurice said. "He's a National Hockey League star player and he should be playing in the National Hockey League."
Tim Gleason and Jay Harrison were both removed from the game because of fighting majors and Joni Pitkanen was called for spearing with less than five minutes remaining. He also left the game because his penalty minute total was higher than the time remaining.
Joe Corvo didn't return to the game because of a "minor" lower body injury.
The Canes quickly fell behind 2-0 on two deflected goals, but came back strong in the second period with three goals of their own. Tuomo Ruutu, Patrick Dwyer, and Jeff Skinner scored for Carolina.
The third period started out as a 3-3 tie, but St. Pete's took advantage of Carolina mistakes and penalties to finish out the scoring and ended the contest with a 5-3 win.
When asked about Tim Gleason's fight, after which he was kicked out of the game, Paul Maurice had more to say.
"I liked it a lot," Maurice said. "You can argue if you like fighting or not, but when you've got guys coming awful close to players' knees with no repercussions, if you don't sort it out that way then there is going to be a lot of stick work and a lot of garbage."
"I had no problem with our discipline," Maurice said. "As a matter of fact I thought we played a very disciplined game. It could have gotten to 30 or 40 (penalties) and I would have been fine with that."
Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes left for Helsinki, Finland to prepare for their regular season opener against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
One of the highlights of the game? Rookie Jeff Skinner showed a lot of moves, including a 180 (to 360) spin move that left his defender standing and watching.
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