The Carolina Hurricanes came out this game with a head of steam, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, and battled their way to a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at the RBC.
The win comes with a somber note though as team captain Eric Staal had to leave the game near the end of the second period with an upper body injury after a collision with Penguin defenseman Matt Niskanen. After skating slowly off the ice under his own power, the All Star center did not return.
Coach Paul Maurice said that Staal will not travel with the club to Montreal for Saturday night's game. He will be listed as day-to-day for now.
When asked about the nature of the hit, Maurice said that the league would have to take a look at it.
After several slow starts in previous games, the Canes jumped out quickly in this one. Jay Harrison continued his hot streak and started things off with a nice goal on a rush just 1:44 into the game. This is the second goal for the defense-minded defenseman, in the last two games.
Erik Cole and Jamie McBain got the assists.
Joe Corvo would then break up the unsuccessful streak on the powerplay with a blast from the point. Coincidentally, Matt Cooke was in the penalty box.
During the second period, things slowed down a bit for the home team. They took two penalties and the Pens grabbed the momentum but Cam Ward and the penalty killers would prevail.
About midway through the period, Derek Joslin made a nice play when he risked his body and jumped inside the blueline to keep the puck in the Penguin zone. He got the puck to Eric Staal, who made a nice patient play when he skated to the side, then fed the puck to the net where Erik Cole was able to knock it in for Carolina's third goal.
Cory Stillman was doing a nice job creating traffic at the side of the net, the same spot he was when Corvo connected on his shot.
With the score 3-0, Marc-Andre Fleury left the game at this point and was replaced by Brent Johnson.
The Pens kept attacking and finally broke through later in the second when Pascal Dupuis knocked in a rebound.
Shortly after that, Staal got hurt while trying to make a shot as he skated into the slot area. It looked like a high hit, but it was a bam-bam play and hard to tell for sure from replays in the press area. The league will make the final call if it was clean or not. Either way, Staal left the game and did not return for the third period.
The final period was not as frenetic as the first two. The Pens carried most of the play, but the Canes counter-attacked when they could. At 14:53 into the third, Jussi Jokinen made it 4-1 on a nicely placed shot, again on a rush. This time he was set up by Brandon Sutter.
Derek Joslin picked up another assist on the play. It was the first two point game in his NHL career.
The Hurricanes hopped on a plane right after the game and made their way to Montreal, where they will play the Habs for the second game of another back-to-back.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- The Hurricanes are now 20-0-0 when leading after two periods and 20-1-4 after scoring the first goal.
- Derek Joslin made a strong case for more playing time tonight. Along with his two assists, he finished with a plus+3 and played over 17 minutes. He also brings some nice physicality with his game. In comparison, Brett Carson played 8:36 against the Rangers.
- Cory Stillman was off the scoresheet his first game, but he does not look out of place on the team. He made himself useful by creating traffic during two of the goals and was solid in his own end.
- The Canes were credited with 28 hits, led by Tuomo Ruutu with eight.
- The Pens outshot the Hurricanes 34-21. The margin was 16-6 in the second period and 12-6 in the third. Joe Corvo had a team high five shots.
- Cam Ward had another solid game and made 33 saves on those 34 shots.
- Corvo also had a team high three blocked shots.
- Jamie McBain has a three game point streak. (all assists)
Post game interviews: