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Staal, Hurricanes hand Islanders worst loss in team history

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- The goals came in bunches for

the Carolina Hurricanes. So did the records.

The Hurricanes matched a club mark with their ninth straight

victory by giving the New York Islanders the worst beating in

franchise history, a 9-0 rout Tuesday night.

Eric Staal had three goals and an assist, and finished with a

club-record fourth hat trick of the season. Cam Ward made 12

saves in setting the team's single-season mark with victory No.

39, and he matched another club mark with his sixth shutout

while helping Carolina extend its franchise-record home-ice

winning streak to 12.

"We're playing the right way. We're playing at a high,

competitive level, and we're playing like a well-oiled machine,"

Staal said. "When you're confident and when you're doing the

right things, you're going to get good results and nights like

tonight."

Erik Cole assisted on all three of Staal's goals and finished

with four assists, while Tuomo Ruutu had two goals and Scott

Walker, Dwight Helminen, Rod Brind'Amour and Frantisek Kaberle

also scored for the Hurricanes.

They led 3-0 after one period and 6-0 after two and held a 57-12

shots advantage - the widest differential in franchise history -

in keeping pace with Philadelphia in the race for the No. 4 seed

in the East. Both teams have 97 points, but the Flyers, who beat

Florida 2-1, have a game in hand.

Yann Danis stopped just seven of 10 shots in the first period

before giving way to Joey MacDonald, who made 41 saves but

allowed six goals for the Islanders. Never before had they lost

by more than eight goals - and they hadn't done that since

losing 8-0 at St. Louis in 1988.

"It was just one of those nights when it seemed nothing was

going in the right direction," Islanders coach Scott Gordon

said.

The Islanders finished this one with more than twice as many

penalty minutes as shots. They didn't hit double figures in

shots until there were six minutes left. And by the midpoint of

the third period, they had as many shots (eight) as Carolina had

goals (eight).

"I don't have any explanation," Danis said.

Anton Babchuk had four assists and Dennis Seidenberg added three

for the Hurricanes. Carolina continued a push for the No. 4 seed

in the East by not overlooking the NHL's worst team three nights

after an emotional win over Pittsburgh that clinched a playoff

spot.

"This could have been easily a game that we could have taken a

night off, and the guys came in and prepared and threw

everything at them," Ward said.

Their nine-game winning streak matched the mark reached twice by

the 2005-06 team that won the Stanley Cup, and Ward broke the

mark for victories set by that season's starter, Martin Gerber,

who won 38 before Ward supplanted him on his way to the Conn

Smythe Trophy.

"It's great, but the most important thing is that we're playing

some good hockey right now," Ward said. "We want to be peaking

when we go into the playoffs, and now with two games left, it's

important that we bear down and have a similar effort like we

did tonight. But I thought the veteran guys were exceptional to

get everybody prepared. ... We definitely came to the rink ready

to play."

Staal polished off his record hat trick before the second period

was over. He stretched Carolina's lead to 2-0 midway through the

first, when he took a feed from Cole, faked a pass from the left

circle and shot the puck around defenseman Mark Streit and past

Danis. His backhander past MacDonald made it 4-0 early in the

second.

Then he completed his eighth career three-goal game at 16:51 of

the second, taking a pretty pass from - who else? - Cole and

one-timing it by MacDonald for his 39th goal.

"It's a pretty good glimpse of the chemistry that we have

together," Staal said of his linemate.

He and the Hurricanes certainly didn't waste much time taking

the suspense out of this one.

They needed less than three minutes to take a 1-0 lead.

Seidenberg pulled in Jack Hillen's clearing attempt just inside

the blue line, and unloaded a shot that clipped Helminen on its

way through a crowd in front of the net for his second career

goal.

"The first one I really didn't see until the last second," Danis

said. "The other two (goals allowed), I definitely should have

had. Staal just beat me."

By then, though, the rout was on - and it could have been even

worse, had Danis not stopped Ray Whitney's breakaway in the

opening minute.

"That game is not much fun from about the 10-minute mark of the

second period on for the coach, because nothing good can happen

in that game now," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We can't

play better. We don't need to score more. You're hoping nobody

gets injured."

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