Rookie scoring leader Jeff Skinner not only outshined Edmonton's trio of freshman phenoms, but the 18 year old and his teammates severely outclassed the Oilers, 7-1, to move above .500 and into the thick of the early season Eastern Conference playoff race.
Eric Staal managed four assists, Joe Corvo scored twice — giving him four goals in his past five games — and Skinner's three points gave him 15 points in 15 outings for the Hurricanes. Here are five observations from Tuesday's win over Edmonton.
1. Speaking of Staal, coach Paul Maurice's decision to move the captain to the point on the power play paid immediate dividends. He looked comfortable patrolling the offensive zone blue line and the threat of him creating a scoring chance back there seemed to open up ice for the rest of the unit, specifically ...
2. ... Skinner. The rookie looked magnificent on the right boards, especially on Erik Cole's power play goal. Want a lesson in how to prevent an opponent from blocking a shot? Skinner's fake shot/pass to Cole in the slot froze Edmonton defenseman Jason Strudwick, who postured like he was attempting to block Skinner's impending blast. In doing so, Strudwick opened a passing lane to Cole in the slot, which Skinner exploited for an assist on the team's second goal of the night. Less than three minutes later, Skinner fired a perfect cross-ice pass to Corvo from nearly the same exact spot for the team's second power play goal.
3. Taylor Hall's second-period stick-slamming episode earned him a front-row seat for most of the third period. The No. 1 overall pick whacked — and broke — his stick on the boards in a show of frustration, and Edmonton coach Tom Renney benched his star pupil. Jordan Eberle, who like Hall was mostly invisible all night, also saw limited ice in the third. Only Magnus Paajarvi seemed up to the task of living up to his lofty reputation among the three rookies, showing off his speed and puck-handling skills, but even he finished the night minus-2 on the night with just two shots on goal.
4. Staal not only delivered on the score sheet, he also showed his opponents and the rest of the league that the Hurricanes will not be pushed around by a bigger team. After being hit in the third period, Staal responded by cleanly finishing a big check on Paajarvi, earning the notice of the Oilers who were itching for a scrum all night. But Staal didn't back down, jawing with the Edmonton players after the whistle. Despite the big lead, the Canes, for the most part, continued to play their game and did not allow Edmonton under their skin — Zack Stortini spent three-quarters of his ice time trying to entice anyone and everyone into a fight. At the same time, Carolina did not allow the embarrassed Oilers to bully them once the game got out of hand.
5. Brandon Sutter's third period hooking penalty was his first infraction since he took a two-minute minor for hooking against the Panthers Dec. 18, 2009. That penalty — nearly 11 months ago — led to a Jordan Leopold goal in an eventual 6-3 loss. But Sutter's hook Tuesday came with the game well in control and the 21-year-old center just looking to join in on the scoring fun while forechecking in the Oilers' end. He now has 20 career penalty minutes, half of which came in two fights during his rookie season — one vs. Phoenix's Jeff Hoggan and the other against the Panthers' Noah Welch. For fun, here's a look at his two NHL fights.
Noah Welch vs. Brandon Sutter
Jeff Hoggan vs. Brandon Sutter