Power-play goals help Hurricanes edge Blues

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) — The Carolina Hurricanes used
the man advantage and another stellar performance from Cam Ward
to prolong their recent run of success at home.

Eric Staal and defenseman Anton Babchuk scored power-play goals
and Ward stopped 30 shots to lead the Hurricanes to a 2-1
victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday.

The Hurricanes posted their fifth win at the RBC Center in six
tries and extended the Blues’ road woes in the process.

Staal’s team-leading 18th goal put Carolina ahead, 1-0, at 5:26
of the first period, but it was Babchuk’s second tally in three
games that proved to be the game-winner.

“They’re playing hard, and they’re big and physical and they
rattle around on us, and our goalie stopped them and we won the
game, and that’s it,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.

With Keith Tkachuk serving a two-minute minor for hooking,
Babchuk hit the goalpost early on in the power play with a slap
shot from the point. The Hurricanes regained possession and,
after Chris Mason stopped another attempt, Babchuk picked up the
loose puck and slipped it pass the sprawled goaltender with 8:55
left in the third for a 2-0 lead.

St. Louis, which has lost seven straight road games in
regulation, pulled within one just 51 seconds later on a goal by
David Backes.

“The toughest part is that we’re right there,” Backes said.
“It’s one-goal games. It’s tie games, third-period leads that
we’ve squandered. Somehow we’re finding ways to give it to the
other team. It’s just not winning hockey the way we’re playing.
We’ve got to find a way to crack that.”

Ward shut the door thereafter, making 15 saves in the final
period for Carolina. He improved to 2-0-0 against the Blues
this season and has allowed just one goal in each of his last
two starts overall.

“They definitely came out there firing in that third period, but
one of the things that I think our team has really improved on
is, we’re not panicking when things like that happen to us,”
Ward said. “Despite them having some opportunities, we didn’t
force anything. We didn’t panic in any way or form.”

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Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu each recorded a pair of assists
for the Hurricanes, who missed out on a golden opportunity with
the power play midway into the second.

Blues rookie defenseman Tyson Strachan was given a five-minute
major and game misconduct for hitting Ray Whitney from behind,
sending the Carolina left wing crashing into the boards

Captain Rod Brind’Amour was issued a minor penalty for holding
the stick to negate two minutes of the advantage and Mason, who
made 26 saves overall, was able to keep Carolina off the board.

“The power play can win you games, and tonight we capitalized on
our two chances, got the two goals, and in the third, we sat
back a little bit too much,” Staal said. “We’ve got to play
with that confidence and that swagger and get it down there, but
we’ll keep working at it.”

The Hurricanes held a brief 5-on-3 advantage after a slashing
penalty was issued to Blues defenseman Jeff Woywitka with 99
seconds remaining on the major penalty but failed to convert.

“They got two power-play goals and we lose the hockey game by a
goal,” St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. “The last one was a
funny bounce. We’ve got to get better in all phases of our
game. We had some great opportunities in the third period. I
thought the ice was tilted in our favor. We had chance after
chance, and Cam Ward made the saves for them. Chris Mason was
good for us tonight, too.”

Blue-liner Carlo Colaiacovo left the game in the first period
with an undisclosed injury, leaving St. Louis with just four
defensemen for nearly half the game.

“I have to commend our defensemen and how hard they played,”
Murray said. “They competed.”