RALEIGH, N.C. – Eric Staal couldn’t stop scoring. For a change, neither could the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina’s all-star centre scored three goals in the third period, and the Hurricanes routed the Edmonton Oilers 7-2 on Friday night to snap their season-worst four-game losing streak and vault back into first place in the Southeast Division.
“Everyone just had one of those attitudes where we weren’t going to be stopped,” Staal said.
Rod Brind’Amour had a goal and two assists, Sergei Samsonov and Chad LaRose both had a goal and an assist and Tim Gleason also scored for Carolina, which put the Oilers away with five third-period goals.
Andrew Cogliano had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Thoresen also scored for the Oilers, who lost their third straight and skated in Raleigh for the first time since the Hurricanes beat them in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals.
The stakes were nowhere near that high this time, but the end result provided a much-needed jolt of confidence for a reeling Hurricanes team that entered having lost eight of 10 and had slipped out of the division lead. Thanks to Buffalo’s 10-1 rout of Atlanta, Carolina catapulted back in front.
“It didn’t matter what team was rolling in here tonight,” Carolina goalie Cam Ward said. “We knew we had to play a good hockey game, and I think the big thing for us was that we came out, right from the drop of the puck, and kind of dictated the tempo of the game.”
Ward, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as that season’s playoff MVP, was only lightly tested and stopped 16 shots in another victory against Edmonton.
“He had to make some big saves (but) there weren’t a lot of them,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. “There wasn’t a lot of quantity, but he had to make a couple of quality saves, and sometimes those are the hardest games to stay in.”
His counterpart, Mathieu Garon stopped 27 shots, allowed six goals and was pulled for Dwayne Roloson after LaRose scored with 7:15 remaining. Roloson stopped two shots.
“You put yourself in the position where every loss is devastating because you dig yourself back,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “I want it hanging over us for a little while till we can come up with a better effort consistently, I’m in no mood to brush this under the carpet.”
Staal made it 3-1 early in the third when he corralled the rebound of his shot off Garon’s pads, skated behind the net and tucked the puck past the goalie’s left pad. Then, awarded a penalty shot after he was hooked by Sheldon Souray, Staal beat a backpedalling Garon with a wrist shot to his stick side, extending the lead to 4-1 and prompting the angry goalie to smack the goal post with his elbow.
“After the fourth goal, it was over, and it didn’t get any better, that’s for sure,” MacTavish said. “The veterans tonight didn’t pull their weight. We needed more from them at the outset.”
Staal completed his fourth career hat trick and first since November 2006 by beating Roloson with a knuckling one-timer with 19.6 seconds left for his team-leading 26th goal.
“We needed something to make us feel better,” Staal said. “It hasn’t been good the last little while. We needed a win at home to rejuvenate everyone, get that fire in everyone’s belly, and we did that tonight. (Carolina) got the crowd going, everyone had a bit of a jump in their step and a smile on, and that’s what you need to play this game.”
Gleason scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, putting Carolina up 2-1 by taking a feed from Brind’Amour at the right point and beating Garon with a one-timed slap shot that clipped an Edmonton defenceman and got past his glove side.
“We somewhat survived (falling behind 1-0) and we were still in decent shape even after their second goal,” Oilers centre Marty Reasoner said. “After the third goal, it snowballed and got out of hand.”
Notes: Carolina LW Erik Cole and Edmonton’s Sam Gagner both had two assists. … Carolina D Dennis Seidenberg was scratched with an ankle problem. … Edmonton skated without D Joni Pitkanen (groin). … Brind’Amour has at least one point in four straight games. … The Hurricanes scored seven goals in a game for the first time since beating the New York Islanders 8-3 on Oct. 27.