RALEIGH, N.C. – Even in retirement, Rod Brind’Amour still can fire up the Carolina Hurricanes. Fittingly, the game-winner came from one of his celebrated former linemates.
Erik Cole scored with 3:03 left to lift Carolina past the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Friday night.
Chad LaRose and Jeff Skinner scored early goals about 2 1/2 minutes apart for the Hurricanes, who played before a packed house and seemed inspired by a pregame ceremony to retire the No. 17 jersey worn by Brind’Amour, their former captain.
Carolina allowed the Flyers to rally late but used Cole’s clutch goal to deny Philadelphia its second straight season sweep and a 10th straight win in the series.
“Maybe it was perfect timing to have Rod Brind’Amour’s night tonight just because of the inspiration that he gave to us players with his speech,” all-star goalie Cam Ward said. “It was an exciting night, and we wanted to make it extra special for Roddy to walk away with a win on his night.”
Jussi Jokinen found Cole with a cross-ice pass, and the Carolina veteran one-timed the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove for the go-ahead goal. Nearly a decade ago, Cole and Brind’Amour joined Bates Battaglia to form the vaunted “BBC” line that helped carry the Hurricanes to the 2002 Stanley Cup final.
“We’re trying to prepare ourselves for the ups and downs of what playoff hockey is like,” Cole said. “Momentum can change within a shift to a five-minute span, a 10-minute span, a period, a game, whatever. You just have to be able to have a short memory and just continue playing the same way.”
Braydon Coburn tied it 2-2 with 5:11 to play after Blair Betts scored a short-handed goal for the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers, who had won two straight and 15 of 19 since New Year’s Day and have the NHL’s best road record. Philadelphia lost in Raleigh for the first time since 2007 and were beaten in regulation by the Hurricanes for the first time since 2006.
“Early on, they grabbed the energy of the building and the energy of the night,” said Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette, who coached the Brind’Amour-led 2006 Carolina team to the club’s only Stanley Cup.
If the standings hold up, this won’t be the last time these teams see each other. Philadelphia—which won the previous three matchups by a combined 13-4—entered with a comfortable margin atop the conference while the Hurricanes have steadily climbed to the No. 8 spot.
“They’re probably one of those teams that we’re going to have to get through to get to the Stanley Cup, so we’ve just got to keep pushing and keep beating the teams in front of us,” Cole said.
Bobrovsky finished with 26 saves for the Flyers, who scratched captain Mike Richards late with flulike symptoms. It was his first missed game in more than two full years. Laviolette said it had his team “juggling” and may have contributed to its early two-goal hole.
Ward stopped 21 shots—including a gem for the highlight tape during a Philadelphia power play midway through the second period. Matt Carle uncorked a shot that appeared headed for the back of the net when Ward, lying on his side, reached his glove hand up and robbed the Flyers defenceman.
“Desperation mode, at that stage,” Ward said.
The Hurricanes played their first home game since Feb. 5—and just their third since they hosted the All-Star game—while going 1-2-2 during a stretch of five straight on the road. But LaRose and Skinner scored two minutes 25 seconds apart to give them an early 2-0 lead.
“It makes a difference when you can feed off the atmosphere,” Ward said. “If that’s not playoff hockey, I don’t know what is. It had a buzz all night.”
First, LaRose wound up being credited for an unusual deflected goal. Joe Corvo uncorked a slap shot that appeared to click off two Flyers—Sean O’Donnell and Andrej Meszaros—before LaRose redirected it through Bobrovsky’s pads for his 11th goal and first since Jan. 20.
Skinner then made it 2-0 when he skated up the left side on a 2-on-1 rush and uncorked a hard blast that found its way past Bobrovsky, giving the 18-year-old rookie his 22nd goal.
Betts pulled the Flyers to 2-1 fewer than three minutes into the second with his first goal since Nov. 4. He skated across the blue line and whipped a shot that got past Ward’s glove. Then, in the final minutes of the period, Philadelphia killed a 2-minute, 5-on-3 disadvantage.
“(If) you can withstand it and get to the other side without getting scored on, you think maybe it’s going to be one of your nights where you can come back and win a hockey game,” Laviolette said. “We did it. We got there in the end. Just a tough break.”
NOTES: Before the game the Hurricanes swung a pair of trades with San Jose, sending D Ian White to the Sharks for a second-round draft pick in 2012 and also acquiring D Derek Joslin from San Jose in exchange for future considerations. … The crowd cheered loudly when it was pointed out on the scoreboard late in the second that both the Flyers and Hurricanes had registered exactly 17 shots on goal. Brind’Amour wore jersey No. 17 for both teams.