RALEIGH, N.C. – Erik Cole is now one of Carolina’s grizzled veterans, and on Friday night he celebrated his 600th game in the league and the return of old linemate Cory Stillman with a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Cole, who has five goals and five assists in February, and Stillman were key members of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup championship.
“Stillman is an intelligent player,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “I think Erik Cole likes the idea of having it on his stick because it lets him get moving a little bit. Erik is playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play consistently now for a while. He’s strong and he’s skating and making good decisions. He definitely has a synergy with Cory Stillman.”
Jussi Jokinen also had a goal and an assist, while Jay Harrison and Joe Corvo scored the other Carolina goals. Derek Joslin added a pair of assists for his first two points with the Hurricanes.
Pascual Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh.
But the news wasn’t all good for Carolina, which lost captain Eric Staal for the rest of the game at 18:52 of the second when he left with an upper-body injury after being levelled by Matt Niskanen.
“He won’t play (Saturday at Montreal), but we’re hopeful he’ll play our next game (here Tuesday against Florida),” Maurice said. “You can’t tell (about the hit) from the camera angles. We’ll let the league look at that.”
Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for Carolina, and Marc-Andre Fleury had 20 saves for Pittsburgh.
Stillman was one of two veterans making their first appearances with their old clubs since Thursday trades, as Alex Kovalev was back in the lineup for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh played its 22nd straight game without captain Sidney Crosby (concussion), and the club gave no update on his status.
“We got going in the second period with the power-play opportunities and had a couple of chances,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “(But) Ward came up with the saves, especially at that early part of the second when we were trying to make a push with our power play.”
Harrison scored on an assist from Cole 1:44 into the game, and then Corvo doubled the lead on a one-timer from the left point on a power play at 16:43.
Cole made it 3-0 at 10:59 of the second, receiving Staal’s pass out of the right corner on the left doorstep and tipping it in.
“Eric’s pass there was pretty sick,” Cole said. “We had a good reload and a good hold on the line by (Joslin). We made contact probably when I was outside the tops of the circles, and it was just a matter of him kind of waiting for me to find my way to the net. He made a great pass probably through about two sets of skates, right on the tape.”
Notes: Hurricanes D Joe Corvo played in his 200th game with the club, while Hurricanes RW Troy Bodie played in his 100th NHL contest. … Pittsburgh D Paul Martin missed his third straight game (upper body). … The game was a sellout, Carolina’s fifth in the building this season.