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Power-play goals help Hurricanes edge Blues

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The Carolina Hurricanes used

the man advantage and another stellar performance from Cam Ward

to prolong their recent run of success at home.

Eric Staal and defenseman Anton Babchuk scored power-play goals

and Ward stopped 30 shots to lead the Hurricanes to a 2-1

victory over the St. Louis Blues on Friday.

The Hurricanes posted their fifth win at the RBC Center in six

tries and extended the Blues' road woes in the process.

Staal's team-leading 18th goal put Carolina ahead, 1-0, at 5:26

of the first period, but it was Babchuk's second tally in three

games that proved to be the game-winner.

"They're playing hard, and they're big and physical and they

rattle around on us, and our goalie stopped them and we won the

game, and that's it," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.

With Keith Tkachuk serving a two-minute minor for hooking,

Babchuk hit the goalpost early on in the power play with a slap

shot from the point. The Hurricanes regained possession and,

after Chris Mason stopped another attempt, Babchuk picked up the

loose puck and slipped it pass the sprawled goaltender with 8:55

left in the third for a 2-0 lead.

St. Louis, which has lost seven straight road games in

regulation, pulled within one just 51 seconds later on a goal by

David Backes.

"The toughest part is that we're right there," Backes said.

"It's one-goal games. It's tie games, third-period leads that

we've squandered. Somehow we're finding ways to give it to the

other team. It's just not winning hockey the way we're playing.

We've got to find a way to crack that."

Ward shut the door thereafter, making 15 saves in the final

period for Carolina. He improved to 2-0-0 against the Blues

this season and has allowed just one goal in each of his last

two starts overall.

"They definitely came out there firing in that third period, but

one of the things that I think our team has really improved on

is, we're not panicking when things like that happen to us,"

Ward said. "Despite them having some opportunities, we didn't

force anything. We didn't panic in any way or form."

Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu each recorded a pair of assists

for the Hurricanes, who missed out on a golden opportunity with

the power play midway into the second.

Blues rookie defenseman Tyson Strachan was given a five-minute

major and game misconduct for hitting Ray Whitney from behind,

sending the Carolina left wing crashing into the boards

face-first.

Captain Rod Brind'Amour was issued a minor penalty for holding

the stick to negate two minutes of the advantage and Mason, who

made 26 saves overall, was able to keep Carolina off the board.

"The power play can win you games, and tonight we capitalized on

our two chances, got the two goals, and in the third, we sat

back a little bit too much," Staal said. "We've got to play

with that confidence and that swagger and get it down there, but

we'll keep working at it."

The Hurricanes held a brief 5-on-3 advantage after a slashing

penalty was issued to Blues defenseman Jeff Woywitka with 99

seconds remaining on the major penalty but failed to convert.

"They got two power-play goals and we lose the hockey game by a

goal," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "The last one was a

funny bounce. We've got to get better in all phases of our

game. We had some great opportunities in the third period. I

thought the ice was tilted in our favor. We had chance after

chance, and Cam Ward made the saves for them. Chris Mason was

good for us tonight, too."

Blue-liner Carlo Colaiacovo left the game in the first period

with an undisclosed injury, leaving St. Louis with just four

defensemen for nearly half the game.

"I have to commend our defensemen and how hard they played,"

Murray said. "They competed."

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