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Cory Stillman's hat trick lifts the Hurricanes to a 5-0 win over the Capitals

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Carolina Hurricanes are making it easy for Cory Stillman.

Stillman scored a hat trick just 11:28 into the game as part of a four-point effort to help the Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 5-0 on Monday night.

"The team's winning, we're producing, we have confidence, we have confidence with the puck," Stillman said. "That ends up showing on the stat sheet after you have a win."

Eric Staal added two goals and Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen had two assists for the Hurricanes, who improved to 5-1-1 at home.

Cam Ward made 35 saves for the Southeast Division-leaders. All three of Ward's regular season shutouts have come against the Capitals.

"It seems like I've had those opportunities to get shutouts, but it always seems like they get a late one or something like that," Ward said. "It's nice to get rewarded."

Washington dropped to 2-9-0 in its last 11 games and suffered its first Southeast Division loss. Alexander Semin (ankle), Chris Clark (ear) and Tom Poti (groin) missed the game for the Capitals.

"Any time you go on a streak like this losing, it's never fun," Matt Pettinger said. "It's still early, but we have to do something to right this ship. You don't want to get too far behind the eight ball."

Stillman battled shoulder trouble last season, posting only 27 points in 43 games. Finally healthy after a torso injury forced him to miss the first four games of this season, Stillman is showing the form of two years ago when he had 76 points and helped Carolina win the Stanley Cup.

Even after missing those four games, Stillman has 19 points to rank in the top 10 in the NHL. He's has at least one point in the last eight games.

Stillman's first goal came three seconds into the Hurricanes' first power play when he smacked a Rod Brind'Amour pass past Washington netminder Olaf Kolzig. Stillman tallied his second goal on Carolina's next man advantage, working a give-and-go with Whitney to create space in the slot.

"The power play was moving well, and (Stillman) was on the receiving end of some nice plays," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "On any night, I think it's anybody that can pop out."

Carolina scored three times with the man advantage in total. The Hurricanes came into the game with the second-best power play in the NHL.

When Stillman finished off a two-on-one with Erik Cole with 8:32 remaining in the first period, Carolina's fans littered the ice with hats. The hat trick was the fourth of Stillman's career and first with the Hurricanes.

Washington had plenty of chances, especially in the first period when it outshot Carolina 19-10. Alexander Ovechkin had two golden opportunities in the opening minute, but Ward stopped both of those, setting the tone for the night.

"We need to score goals," Pettinger said. "We had lots of shots on net and a few good chances but we ran into a very good goaltender again tonight in Ward."

Notes: Stillman's hat trick was the second fastest in Carolina franchise history. Whitney scored three goals in 1:40 last season. ... Washington is the only team to shut out Carolina this season, posting a 2-0 win on Oct. 6. ... Washington's Donald Brashear received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding in the second period. ... Carolina is in the midst of a stretch of nine straight games against Southeast Division foes.


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