Hurricanes’ Erik Cole returns after missing four games with neck injury

RALEIGH, N.C. – Carolina left wing Erik Cole was activated Friday night and assisted on the Hurricanes’ first goal in their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Cole missed four games after leaving the ice on a stretcher with a neck injury Nov. 12 against the Florida Panthers. A six-year veteran, Cole had three goals in 14 games before getting hurt.

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His return paid off quickly as he was credited with an assist on Eric Staal’s goal at 4:53 of the first period to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. It was Staal’s 100th goal of his career.

To make room for Cole, the Hurricanes reassigned left wing Ryan Bayda to Albany of the American Hockey League.