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Hurricanes beat Oilers 5-3 as Kirk Muller gets his first NHL coaching win

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

EDMONTON - Kirk Muller was elated to finally get his first NHL coaching win, and he wasn't afraid to show it.

The Hurricanes got there first win in five tries under Muller and ended a seven-game winless skid with a 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Muller, who replaced Paul Maurice behind the bench in Carolina, was clearly glad to put a rough start to his coaching career behind him.

"It was great," he said. "I'm not afraid to show some emotion. We've had some tough nights so far in my coaching career. When you have a fun night like this you have to enjoy it. The guys played great tonight and it was fun to see them get rewarded."

Jeff Skinner, Jamie McBain, Patrick Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes (9-17-4), who won their first game in five tries under Muller. Tomas Kaberle added two assists.

"It's nice to be able to smile after a game," said Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. "It's been a while since we won a hockey game. We wanted to do this for Kirk, he's been great since he got here. We rebounded from a tough loss last night and played a really good hockey game. The bounces haven't been going our way but all you can do it stick with it. It was nice to have a night where our hard work paid off."

Eric Belanger, Ben Eager and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins replied for the Oilers (13-12-3), who are in a tailspin with two losses in a row and five in their last six games.

"It was a strange game," said Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk. "I don't think anyone could say we executed our game plan and played the way we wanted."

The Oilers certainly didn’t plan anywhere near as well as head coach Tom Renney expected out of them.

"We didn't have enough passion to play," he said. "We didn't have an emotional connection to the game. I’m pretty disappointed. This one hurt. The players are really disappointed in themselves. We all are.

"Your leaders really need to step up and seize a game like that by the throat and I thought we struggled with that tonight."

Carolina appeared to score eight minutes into the first when LaRose stole the puck from Ryan Smyth behind the Edmonton net and made a wrap-around shot, but was determined by video review to have kicked the rebound into the goal.

Edmonton had a goal of its own reviewed three minutes later, but theirs would count. Magnus Paajarvi banked a shot off of Tim Brent onto the Carolina net and Ward trapped it under his stick. However in the scrum that ensued Eric Belanger hit the stick with his skate and the puck skittered across the line to count as his first goal of the season, despite originally be credited as Paajarvi's first.

Carolina finally buried one of its many first-period chances with 40 seconds remaining as a bad bounce off of the glass landed in front of the Oiler net, and Skinner beat Dubnyk through his pads for a power-play goal.

The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second as McBain beat a stickless Dubnyk up high with a shot with another Oiler penalty on the way.

Carolina went up by two goals with eight minutes to play in the second as Eric Staal fed it ahead to Dwyer and he undressed Dubnyk with a deke before sliding it through the five-hole.

Three minutes later it was 4-1 Carolina as LaRose took a two-on-one pass and slid yet another goal through Dubnyk’s legs on a short-handed opportunity.

Edmonton got one of those goals back nine seconds later as Eager showed some hustle to scoop up a loose puck and swing a shot behind Ward for his first of the year.

The Hurricanes kept on coming to start the third with another goal four minutes in. Jussi Jokinen found Ruutu in front, and he sent a shot through traffic for a 5-2 Carolina lead.

Skinner had a chance to get his second of the game after he was awarded a penalty shot seven minutes into the third period after being chopped by Theo Peckham while on a breakaway, but couldn't beat Dubnyk on the attempt.

Edmonton got a goal back with just over six minutes to play as Sam Gagner through a puck in front from his knees and rookie Nugent-Hopkins found a sliver of light behind Ward. It was the rookie's 13th goal and 30th point of the season.

Both teams return to action on Friday as the Oilers closeout a six-game homestand against Colorado and the Hurricanes travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets.

Notes: It was the only meeting of the season between the two teams. The Hurricanes won last year’s meeting by a 7-1 score at home.…F Ben Eager and F Anton Lander returned to the lineup for Edmonton. Eager had missed six games with a lingering back problem while Lander had missed three games with an infected hand.…Oilers F Taylor Hall is progressing well with a shoulder injury but has yet to be cleared for contact…The Hurricanes were without G Brian Boucher (lower body), D Jay Harrison (upper body) and D Joni Pitkanen (upper body)…Nugent-Hopkins became the fast Oiler rookie to ever hit 30 points in his 28th game. The fastest previous was Jason Arnott, who took 38 games to hit 30 points in the 1993-94 season.


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