RALEIGH, N.C. – Joe Corvo always seems to play his best against his old team. He was good enough this time to lift his coach to a record-breaking victory.
Corvo’s goal with 2:40 left helped Peter Laviolette become the winningest American-born coach in NHL history and led the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
Fellow defenceman Dennis Seidenberg also scored for the Hurricanes, who trailed 1-0 after two periods but scored twice in the final nine minutes.
Corvo, who also had an assist, was acquired from Ottawa in February in the Mike Commodore deal. He had his only career hat trick the first time he skated against the Senators.
“It’s just a little extra in the Kool-Aid before the game,” he said.
Mike Fisher scored for the Senators, who were denied their third straight win.
Michael Leighton made 22 saves in his second straight start on home ice to help Laviolette surpass former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella with his 240th career victory.
“Those things happen – every year, somebody plays their 400th game, somebody scores their 300th point,” Laviolette said. “If you stay around long enough, something will happen, and I’ve been fortunate and lucky to stay around long enough in this game.”
Corvo took advantage of an Ottawa turnover in its own zone to score the go-ahead goal. Sergei Samsonov kept the puck in the zone, Tim Gleason’s slap shot was stopped by Martin Gerber and the puck made its way to Corvo, who snapped the puck over the goalie’s shoulder.
“It was just a point in the game where I felt like I wanted to get involved and maybe see what would happen in there,” Corvo said. “Sure enough, there was a turnover and it ended up on my stick. I just put it on net.”
That came about six minutes after Seidenberg started Carolina’s comeback. He beat Gerber with a slap shot from just inside the blue line for the first power-play goal allowed by the Senators in four games.
“In the third period, we weren’t very strong, and we lost a lot of battles,” Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg said.
Jarkko Ruutu appeared to have tied it with 1:49 left when his slap shot from the blue line got past Leighton, but the goal was waved off because he was offside.
“It wasn’t our best game, no question,” Fisher said. “We tried to stick with it. We didn’t create a ton of offensive chances. We scrambled a bit in our own end. … We just didn’t handle the pucks that well tonight. (Gerber) played well and kept us in it. To lose it like that in the third is disappointing.”
Gerber – who set the Hurricanes’ single-season records with 38 victories and a .707 winning percentage in 2005-06, his only season with them – stopped 28 shots in his return to the Senators’ lineup after missing six games with a leg injury.
Fisher put Ottawa up 1-0 in the final moments of the second period after Gleason couldn’t make a play on the puck near the blue line. Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson gathered the puck, skated down the right side and wristed a shot into Leighton’s pads, and Fisher zipped in from the left side to poke the rebound past the goalie’s right pad with 1:52 left.
But for the first 38 minutes, this one was a defence-dominated grind with few quality scoring chances.
Early on, nobody came closer to scoring than Jason Spezza, who thought he had a goal midway through the first when he backhanded a rebound behind Leighton – and even raised his stick to celebrate. But play continued, and the no-goal call eventually stood because officials couldn’t determine during the video review whether the puck crossed the stripe.
Notes: The Hurricanes placed C Brandon Sutter (concussion) on the injured list before the game and replaced him with C Michael Ryan from their AHL affiliate in Albany. … Carolina C Matt Cullen (leg) missed his fourth straight game. … Carolina C Rod Brind’Amour played with stitches on both sides of his nose. He was injured in the final seconds Thursday night at Washington. … Ottawa LW Dany Heatley’s five-game goal-scoring streak ended. He also had scored in his last five games against the Hurricanes.