RALEIGH, N.C. – An exhausted Matt Carle headed for Philadelphia’s bench, but none of his teammates noticed. So he stayed on the ice and wound up scoring the goal that gave his team to its longest winning streak in years.
Philadelphia won its sixth straight Wednesday night, beating the slumping Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 behind two goals and an assist from Simon Gagne.
Carle scored the go-ahead goal with just under 18 minutes left, and it propelled the Flyers to their first six-game winning streak since Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2005.
Not that the defenceman – who entered with a team-leading 53 blocked shots – was thinking about uncorking a shot of his own. Something else was on his mind.
“I was trying to get a change. I was gassed,” Carle said.
The decisive sequence was started by Gagne after a Carolina turnover led to an odd-man rush during a 4-on-4 play. He slipped the puck to Carle during Philadelphia’s 3-on-1 break, and the defenceman put the Flyers up 2-1 by beating Cam Ward high to his glove side for his second goal.
“The puck got turned over, and I tried to see if I could get in the play,” Carle said. “Simon made a good play, and the goalie was out of position, and I jut tried to get the shot off as quick as possible.”
Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves for the streaky Flyers, who opened the season with six consecutive losses and now have won six straight for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2005.
“Party time? I don’t know about that,” defenceman Luca Sbisa said. “For sure, it’s great to be on a winning streak instead of being on a losing streak. We didn’t have a pretty good start to the season. … Now we’re sitting in the other boat.”
Chad LaRose scored for the third straight game, and Ward made 24 saves for Carolina before he was pulled with 1:45 left for an extra attacker. The Hurricanes held a 28-27 advantage in shots despite putting just one puck on net in the first period, yet lost their third straight and sixth in nine games.
“We played the first period like a game of pond hockey,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
Gagne gave Philadelphia an early lead 6 minutes in, taking advantage when four Carolina players surrounded the puck in front of Ward in an attempt to clear it. When it clicked off a skate and slipped Gagne’s way, he chipped it in from the right side of the net.
“You can throw film out the window – I think execution and energy and heart and downright gritty work (are) where you’re going to get it done,” LaRose said. “Sometimes there (are) lulls during the game, and sometimes that costs you games.”
Gagne then capped his big night by beating the final buzzer and scoring into an empty net for his 13th goal. He has five goals and 11 assists during his nine-game point streak.
Carolina – booed during the first intermission after its early offensive futility – tied it 1-all roughly 2 minutes into the second when LaRose wristed a shot off Niittymaki’s pads and sneaked the rebound through the goalie’s legs for his seventh of the season.
“It’s not good that they scored, but it is good that something happened,” Niittymaki said. “I needed to wake up my body a little bit. I felt good, even though they scored right away. I started feeling better.”
Notes: Carolina RW Scott Walker left in the second period with a lower-body injury suffered when he was hooked by Flyers D Andrew Alberts. … The Hurricanes activated D Frantisek Kaberle (broken leg) from the injured list, but he wound up scratched and he missed his 19th straight game. … Carolina fell behind 1-0 for the eighth straight game. … The teams meet three more times in the next 15 days.