RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t in position to be bashful.
After Rod Brind’Amour scored the winning goal in the Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, Carolina’s players didn’t shy away from calling their two consecutive victories a winning streak.
“I don’t think we’ve had any all year,” Brind’Amour said. “I can’t remember the last one.”
Tom Kostopoulos, Brett Carson and Eric Staal also scored to help Carolina win consecutive games for the first time since early December. On Tuesday night in Toronto, the Hurricanes will attempt to win three in a row for the first time this season.
Cam Ward made 31 saves, keeping Carolina in the game when Ottawa dominated the first period.
“If it wasn’t for Cam Ward, it could’ve been 5-0 easily after the first,” Kostopoulos said.
Chris Kelly scored for Ottawa, and Pascal LeClaire stopped 29 shots. The Senators, opening a five-game trip, have lost four in a row.
“We played very well the first half,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “It made a difference with Ward – he was real good. It allowed them to get their game going.”
Brind’Amour, one of the heroes of Carolina’s Stanley Cup run in 2006, has had a tough season, ranking last in the NHL in plus/minus and going 35 games without a goal. But he scored for the second time in the last three games, slapping a shot past Leclaire’s outstretched left leg late in the second period.
That was enough for Ward, who started his 12th straight game and has allowed seven goals in his last four contests.
“That’s what goaltending does for you,” Brind’Amour said. “It seemed like he was just on tonight. The first period was all him.”
Ward’s best saves came early, when the Senators outshot the Hurricanes 16-5 in the first period. But Ottawa didn’t get on the scoreboard until early in the second, taking a 1-0 lead when Kelly took a pass from Anton Volchenkov and snapped the puck through Ward’s legs.
Carolina answered 40 seconds later when Brandon Sutter broke up the left boards on a 2-on-1. As he neared the left faceoff circle, Sutter backhanded the puck to Kostopoulos, who dove to smack it past Leclaire for his third goal in four games.
Carson scored his first career NHL goal on a rush late in the third period. Ray Whitney found Carson trailing on the play, and Carson wristed it through a crowd in front of the net.
Staal added another insurance goal, taking another nice pass from Whitney and outwaiting Leclaire before sliding it underneath the goalie.
“Right now it seems what can go wrong is going wrong,” Clouston said. “We’ve just got to suck it up and move forward.”
Both teams were without a number of their top players.
Ottawa’s Milan Michalek missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury, joining Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson on the sideline.
Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu sat out because of an upper-body injury sustained in a fight against Colorado’s Darcy Tucker on Friday night. Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov, Joe Corvo and Scott Walker also missed the game for Carolina.
NOTES: Staal missed Carolina’s previous game while attending his sister-in-law’s funeral. … Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play.