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Hottest Team in NHL Wins Again: Hurricanes 4, Senators 1

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The Carolina Hurricanes won their seventh game in a row and never skipped a beat after losing five players on trade deadline day as they defeated  the Ottawa Senators Thursday night by a score of 4-1.  The home team jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period, scored another one in the second, and topped things off with an empty netter with just over a minute to play.

Matt Cullen scored the lone Ottawa goal on a nice wrap-around chance in the third period, but it was too little too late for the visitors.

The fourth line started doing the damage early for the Canes as Tom Kostopoulos opened the scoring at about the five minute mark and Rod Brind`Amour followed up with another tally just a minute and change later. 

The quick scores chased starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who looked a bit shaky at the start.  He was replaced by Brian Elliott.

Rookie Zach Boychuk was credited with assists on both goals.  The youngster brought a lot of energy to the line as Brind'Amour scored his 6th goal of the season and Kostopoulos scored his 8th.

Later on in the second period, Eric Staal was attempting to put a shot on goal, but left the puck in the crease as he skated by.  Chad LaRose darted in and fired the loose puck into the net to make the score 3-0. 

The third period was a defensive one for the Hurricanes as they only put two shots on goal, but they succeeded in keeping the Sens off the board until Matt Cullen skated behind the net and wrapped his chance in with about eight minutes left.

Near the end, Brandon Sutter scrambled for a loose puck at center ice and fired it into the empty net to seal the deal.

 

Manny Legace made several fine saves in the effort and probably deserved a shutout.  He ended up making 25 saves on 26 shots.

Newcomers on defense, Brian Pothier and Alexandre Picard both had very good games.  Pothier led the team with five blocked shots, had three hits, and a shot on goal.  He made one impressive play in particular in the third when he broke up a two-on-one break by the Sens.

I spoke with the ex-Capital after the game and he said that his new teammates have made him feel right at home. 

"This is a tremendous room and everyone has been great so far.  The system is a bit different from what I played in DC, but it's a simple system, which is good.  I've been able to adapt so far." 

The defenseman gave credit to the forwards for his successful debut as a Hurricane. 

"The forwards really worked hard and back-pressured all night long.  They were a huge help and there were not many odd man rushes to deal with at all in this game."

The team has an optional practice Friday at noon, then will fly to Florida for their matchup with the Panthers on Saturday night. 

Game Notes:

  • Carolina had 21 shots on goal, led by Kostopoulos with four.  The forward seemed to be looking for his shot more in this game and showed a couple of new moves.
  • Manny Legace had never beaten the Senators before, but with the victory he now has at least one win against all 30 teams in the NHL.  The goalie has been solid as a rock during this winning streak and has four wins in a row.
  • Jussi Jokinen's 10 game point streak came to an end, but not due to lack of effort.  He and his linemates, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney came close on several occasions.
  • Carolina had 34 hits led by Tuomo Ruutu, who had eight.  Next highest was Tim Gleason with four.
  • There was a good crowd and the announced attendance was 17,048.  Many fans got in line to see the Olympic medal display and that was a busy scene. 
  • As it turned out, some youth on the fourth line might not be a bad thing.  That was about the best the line has looked all year long.
  • The Canes now have won 9 of their last 11 games and have out-scored their opponents during their seven game winning streak by a 29-12 margin.  They have also won seven games in a row at home.  Not only have they been winning, they have been dominating.
  • They should continue to jump out to leads because they are 22-3-1 when leading after the second period.

The following is a video of Eric Staal's post game interview: