RALEIGH, N.C. – Cory Stillman made his new team happy—at the expense of his former club.
Five days after Florida traded Stillman to Carolina, he had a goal and an assist against the Panthers to lead Carolina to a 2-1 win Tuesday night.
It was nothing personal, though. Carolina needed to keep ahead of Buffalo in the playoff race. The Hurricanes stayed in eighth, two spots ahead of the Sabres.
“That’s a team we had to beat,” Stillman said. “It was a good start, an emotional start, that’s for sure. I had a chance to score on my first shift and missed the net. But it’s nice to get that game over with quickly.”
Eric Staal had Carolina’s other goal. Stephen Weiss scored for Florida.
Tuesday’s game was also the first for Carolina defenceman Bryan Allen and Florida left-winger Sergei Samsonov after the teams traded them for each other at the deadline on Monday.
Staal, the Hurricanes’ captain, was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game at Montreal following a hard upper-body check from Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen that had taken him out late in the second period on Friday.
“I felt good,” Staal said. “It took a little bit to get legs into it early, but for the most part I felt pretty good. We’re going to look forward to Thursday against Buffalo. We would like to have looked a little better breaking the puck out of our end, but they skated hard.”
Carolina goalie Cam Ward stopped 41 shots.
“It was a very difficult game for our team to play and it looked like it,” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. “And we won. We’ve played games this year where we’ve played exceptionally and lost. Tonight we weren’t as good as we expected our team to be and we won.”
Stillman got the Hurricanes on the board on a rush at 5:25 of the first, sending the puck ricocheting off the outside of his left skate and between Scott Clemmensen’s pads with Cole on the primary assist.
Staal made it 2-0 on a power play at 14:55, camping on the left doorstep and barely moving his stick to tip in Stillman’s pass from the right circle. Weiss halved the lead for Florida at 3:58 of the second when he out-duelled defenceman Joe Corvo in the low slot and beat Ward glove side with David Booth on the primary assist.
Florida’s Hugh Jessiman and Carolina’s Troy Bodie fought at 8:29 of the first.
“I give ourselves an ‘A’ for effort,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. “With Bryan Allen and Cory Stillman over there we knew they’d come out quickly and they did. But I thought our guys showed a lot of resiliency and probably deserved a better fate.”
Notes: Clemmensen made 20 saves. … RW Niclas Bergfors made his debut with Florida after being obtained in a trade with Atlanta on Monday. … D Jay Harrison was back in the Carolina lineup after missing one game because of illness, with D Derek Joslin the healthy scratch. … Cole’s first-period assist was his 351st point with Carolina, tying him for ninth place on the franchise list.