RALEIGH, N.C. – Drayson Bowman needed less than five minutes to double his career goal total. That bit of timely scoring helped give Kirk Muller his first coaching victory on home ice, and—for a while, at least—lifted the Carolina Hurricanes out of last place in the East.
Bowman scored two goals to lead Carolina past the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3 on Thursday night.
Tuomo Ruutu added a deflected goal and an assist, and Jaroslav Spacek scored his first goal since being acquired by the Hurricanes, who scored four straight goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit, then held on to give Muller his first win at home and snap a slide in which they had lost 16 of 20.
Bowman, who was recalled from the minors three days earlier, wasn’t around for most of those losses, but finished with the second two-goal game of his brief career. The win and a loss by the New York Islanders moved Carolina into 14th place.
“Coming up from Charlotte, that’s just what you hope to do—come in and bring whatever you can,” Bowman said. “If it’s two goals, it’s great.”
Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond each had a goal and an assist, Kevin Bieksa also scored, Cory Schneider stopped 37 shots, and Henrik Sedin had two assists to reach 700 career points for the Canucks, who entered 9-1-1 in their previous 11.
“We had quite a few quality chances to put that game away, and we didn’t,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Casual in front of their net, we weren’t able to bury some grade-A scoring chances, made a couple of mistakes, and all of a sudden we’re in penalty trouble and the score’s 4-2 and it’s really tough to come back in this league—especially against a world-class goaltender.”
Cam Ward made 33 saves for the Hurricanes, who rallied from two goals down and scored three times in a 4:45 stretch that spanned the second intermission and began and ended with Bowman’s third and fourth career goals.
“We talked about going out there and trying to make it happen,” Ward said. “We didn’t sit back in the third period … and showed that we were going to go for it.”
The Hurricanes took a 3-2 lead 37 seconds into the third on Bowman’s second goal, which came when he switched from the backhand to the forehand and whipped the puck past Schneider from the circle.
Spacek, picked up in a trade with Montreal for Tomas Kaberle, made it 4-2 when he scored on a 6-on-4 situation with Carolina on a power play and with a second extra attacker because of a delayed penalty on Vancouver. Spacek took a feed from Ruutu and blasted the puck past Schneider.
Burrows scored on a rebound with 11:20 left to pull the Canucks within a goal, but Ward was impenetrable after that—including a sprawling reach across an otherwise wide-open net to rob Keith Ballard with about 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
“Pure desperation,” Ward said. “Just a matter of not giving up on a puck.”
That helped the Hurricanes improve to 2-5-1 since Muller took over 2 1/2 weeks ago for the fired Paul Maurice.
Carolina’s comeback started with 4:08 left in the second, when Bowman pulled the Hurricanes within a goal at 2-1 off a pretty pass from Anthony Stewart. Ruutu made it 2-all when Bryan Allen’s slap shot clicked off him with 51.6 seconds left.
“We never go away,” Muller said. “We’ve been in every game. We haven’t come up on the right side of the win column in some of them, but we need better starts. That goal (had) us saying, ‘We can play with these guys,’ and I think the guys felt we had good momentum tonight. We just didn’t score. We got that one, we’re in the game.”
Both teams managed plenty of offence despite skating without their scoring leaders. Carolina centre Jeff Skinner—the NHL’s rookie of the year last season who has 12 goals and 24 points—missed his third straight game and first since the team determined he sustained a concussion last week.
The Canucks were without left-winger Daniel Sedin, a late scratch with what Vigneault said were back spasms. He leads the team with 34 points and has 22 goals, three behind twin brother Henrik for the club lead. Vigneault said it was too early to tell whether Daniel Sedin would play Saturday at Toronto.
Henrik Sedin reached his latest career milestone midway throughthe second, when his pretty pass from behind the net set up Raymond’s goal that made it 2-0. Bieksa scored Vancouver’s first goal roughly 5 1/2 minutes in with a blistering one-timer that a screened Ward had no chance of stopping.
Things got chippy about two minutes later when some shoving in front of Schneider gave way to five simultaneous one-on-one scraps of varying ferocity. Most notably, Allen wrestled Aaron Rome to the ice, then took a swipe at Maxim Lapierre on his way to the penalty box.
NOTES: Carolina had lost its previous 11 games in which it trailed after one period. … Vancouver C Ryan Kesler has points in nine of 12 games. … Webb Simpson, a Raleigh native who finished second in golf’s FedEx Cup playoffs, sounded the ceremonial siren that welcomes the Hurricanes onto the ice.