RALEIGH, N.C. – Eric Staal took care of a career milestone and, for a change, put the Carolina Hurricanes on the other side of a blowout.
Staal had three goals, including the 200th of his career, and two assists in the Hurricanes’ 7-1 victory over the heavy-hearted Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.
Chad LaRose added two goals and two assists, Tim Gleason had a goal and an assist and Tuomo Ruutu also scored for the Hurricanes, who put up four goals in the first period against Brian Elliott.
Cam Ward made 23 saves for Carolina. Reeling after consecutive lopsided losses to Philadelphia and at Montreal by a combined 15-3, the Hurricanes shook up the roster a few hours before the puck dropped by trading two regulars to Calgary.
“We weren’t happy with our last two games, we came out ready to play and they looked like a team with a lot on their mind,” Staal said.
And understandably so. The one-sided outcome provided a difficult conclusion to an emotionally draining day for the Senators.
The team delayed its trip to attend a memorial service earlier in the day in Ottawa for the 14-year-old daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson, who committed suicide on Friday. The Senators didn’t arrive in Raleigh until Wednesday afternoon.
“We went through a lot today,” defenceman Chris Phillips said, “and couldn’t get the job done.”
Daniel Alfredsson scored late for the Senators, who lost their second straight. Elliott stopped just 12 shots in fewer than 17 minutes before he was pulled for Pascal Leclaire, who made nine saves but allowed three goals.
“It was pretty much the worst-case scenario,” Phillips said. “We wanted to win this game for so many reasons. A couple early mistakes and lost battles, and before we knew it, we were down 4-0.”
Carolina wanted this one badly, too, for a much different reason.
General manager Jim Rutherford told reporters before the game that the Hurricanes “were embarrassed” by those no-show performances last week. Before the game, they announced the trade of forward Tom Kostopoulos and defenceman Anton Babchuk to the Flames in exchange for defenceman Ian White and forward Brett Sutter.
“When you go through the two games that we went through, you certainly open the doors for things to happen,” coach Paul Maurice said. “But I don’t think this happened in a 24-hour or 48-hour period.”
Whether it was that shakeup, or simply having four days to dwell on those defeats, the Hurricanes all but put this one out of reach before the first intermission.
Gleason struck first for Carolina 4½ minutes in, taking a feed from LaRose while skating into the left circle and snapping the puck past Elliott.
Then, Staal took over.
The team leader with nine goals and 22 points scored twice on the power play in the first period, then added his third goal in the third.
Career goal No. 200 came with 9:19 left in the first when he took a pass from Jussi Jokinen on the back line and stuffed it past Elliott.
Then he scored again with just under four minutes left before the first break, slipping in the rebound of Jokinen’s slap shot to stretch it to 3-0. Staal finished off his 11th career hat trick on a rush with 6:16 to play.
“Hoping to have a lot more than 200,” Staal said. “Obviously, (it was) a great honour for me, and I’m fortunate to be on the right end of some very good plays tonight, some very good passes.”
LaRose’s first goal of the game came with 3:14 left in the first when he chipped in a rebound to make it 4-0. That chased Elliott, and by that point, the Hurricanes had as many goals as the Senators had shots on goal. LaRose added his second goal 86 seconds into the third to make it 5-0.
Notes: Jokinen and LW Sergei Samsonov had two assists apiece for Carolina. … Staal also was stopped on two short-handed breakaways, once by each Ottawa goalie. … Another of Carolina’s newest acquisitions, RW Troy Bodie, was scratched. The Hurricanes claimed him on waivers from Anaheim a day earlier. … Ottawa D Matt Carkner traded punches late in the first with Hurricanes D Jay Harrison.