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Ponikarovsky scores twice, Hurricanes topple Flyers with 4-2 victory

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PHILADELPHIA - In a five-day span, coach Paul Maurice's Carolina Hurricanes have made a rapid improvement.

Alexei Ponikarovsky had two goals and an assist and Chad LaRose had a goal and two assists in leading the Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

Jeff Skinner also scored and Cam Ward made 30 saves for Carolina, which got its first victory in Philadelphia since Nov. 28, 2008. Jussi Jokinen added two assists for the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes struggled against Montreal in a 4-0 loss on Nov. 16.

Overall, Carolina has had its problems against Philadelphia. Entering Monday, the Hurricanes had only won once in their past 11 meetings against Philadelphia, and were 1-17-3 in the past 21 games against the Flyers.

"That's why this was huge, huge for us," Maurice said. "A couple of things have happened. The second period of the Montreal game was the worst hockey I've ever seen a team play. To come back and be able to flick a switch and as a group, get 20 guys focused on an idea, that's really good leadership in that room.

"We've changed some things and we've tried to change our fortunes and our season with a pretty deep heart-to-heart conversation after our Montreal game. We made a change and we lost 1-0 to Buffalo, but we played one of our best games of the year. We beat Toronto and now we won here and now everyone is going, 'That's what we're talking about.' We think the rock bottom was Montreal and win like this gets us going. This could change things."

James van Riemsdyk and Matt Read scored for Philadelphia, which has lost two in a row.

The Flyers were also playing without two key defencemen, Chris Pronger and Braydon Coburn. Both players are day to day.

"They are guys that play a lot of minutes for us," Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said. "They are a big part of the game we play, but they are excuses that we lost good players, we have enough talented players to win games."

Down 2-0 after the first period, van Riemsdyk scored his eighth goal of the season early in the second period to get Flyers on the board. However, a couple of minutes later, LaRose got his sixth to restore Carolina's two-goal edge.

At 12:24 of the second, the Flyers once again got within a goal when rookie Matt Read scored his ninth of the season that pulled the Flyers within 3-2. Read has a goal in five straight games.

But Ponikarovsky managed to find the puck through a group of players in front of the net and lifted it over Bryzgalov late in the second to make it 4-2.

"We had our struggles the last eight or nine games," Ponikarovsky said. "This was important for everyone to get back on the same page, and I think we did that. It's been very emotional, but we played with a lot of energy tonight."

Carolina took a 2-0 lead after one period. Ponikarovsky began the scoring when he beat Bryzgalov at 13:42 with help from LaRose.

LaRose had worked his way down the right side of the Flyers' zone and as Flyers defenceman Kimmo Timonen tried to anticipate a pass, he committed too early, and was out of position in front of the net. LaRose flicked a pass underneath of Timonen to the uncovered Ponikarovsky, who had a wide open net.

Late in the first period, Skinner put on a nifty spinning move, muscling by the defence and jammed home his ninth of the season at 19:45 of the period.

Notes: Pronger and Coburn were scratched before Monday's game. Pronger, the Flyers' captain who missed six games with an eye injury earlier this season, is out with a virus and will undergo tests. Coburn is out with an upper-body injury. GM Paul Holmgren said Coburn probably got hurt in the game against Winnipeg on Nov. 19. ... In other moves, the Flyers brought up defencemen Kevin Marshall and Marc-Andre Bourdon from the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms to replace Coburn and Pronger. The Hurricanes recalled forward Brett Sutter from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Forwards Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe were been reassigned to Charlotte.


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