Friday, February 18, 2011

Hurricanes get last laugh, snap nine-game losing skid to Flyers

Special to the Phanatic

Erik Cole scored the go-ahead goal with 3:03 left in the third period to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to their first victory against Philadelphia in more than two years, a 3-2 decision at RBC Center.

Cole's tally came a little more than two minutes after the Flyers' Braydon Coburn tied the game, and helped Carolina snap a nine-game losing streak against Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia. The Hurricanes had not beaten the Flyers since November 28, 2008, and also recorded their first regulation victory against them since December 19, 2006.

The victory came on the night that the Hurricanes retired Rod Brind'Amour's No. 17. Brind'Amour played with Carolina from 2000-10, after spending eight- plus seasons with Philadelphia. He won a Stanley Cup in 2006, when current Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was the Hurricanes' head man.

Chad LaRose and Jeff Skinner also scored for Carolina, currently the eighth seed in the East, which opened a four-game homestand. Cam Ward made 21 saves.

Blair Betts also lit the lamp for Philadelphia, which lost for just the second time in its last seven outings. Sergei Bobrovsky played well but came up just short in the loss, stopping 26 shots. Mike Richards was a late scratch with what the club termed "flu-like symptoms."

Carolina gained control by scoring twice early in the first period, but Philadelphia worked to tie the game, getting on the board 2:57 into the second period with a short-handed goal.

With forward Andreas Nodl in the box for hooking, the Flyers got a chance when Betts carried into the Carolina zone in a 1-on-1 with a Hurricanes defenseman. Betts skated up the center, shifted to his left and wristed the puck over Ward.

Carolina maintained its lead into the third period, but the Flyers' pressure paid off down the stretch.

"Momentum can change very quickly... sometimes within a shift or two," Cole said. "You have to be able to have a short memory and continue to play hard."

Scott Hartnell kept the puck in the zone at the left point and passed to Ville Leino, who moved toward the goal line before centering into a scrum of players. Coburn, meanwhile, was waiting at the inside edge of the right circle and moved into the slot to meet a rebound, blasting it in with 5:11 to play.

However, Philadelphia's defense was caught out of position a few minutes later.

Jussi Jokinen picked up the puck in the neutral zone and skated up the left side of the ice on a 2-on-1 with Cole. Jokinen made a perfect cross-ice pass to enable Cole's game-deciding one-timer.

The Flyers tried to net another equalizer in the remaining minutes, but Ward made all the necessary saves, including a stop on Jeff Carter's backhand try with about 90 seconds left.

"I liked the way we played in the second period, third period, we were able to tie it up," Laviolette said. "Tough break on that last one. We're pressing, it just comes back. But I would say that early on they grabbed the energy of the building and the energy of the night. They had us a little bit in the first five minutes."

Perhaps flush with the competitive spirit that Brind'Amour showed during his entire 20-year NHL career, the Hurricanes got the jump on Philadelphia with two quick scores early in the contest.

LaRose tipped in Joe Corvo's point blast at 4:12, and Skinner beat Bobrovsky five-hole from the left circle at 6:37.

Notes: Richards' consecutive games streak ended at 169, a far cry from Brind'Amour's still-standing club record of 484 straight starts...Earlier on Friday, Carolina traded defenseman Ian White to the San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick in 2012...The Hurricanes also acquired defenseman Derek Joslin from SJ for future considerations...Carolina went 0-for-6 on the power play, while Philadelphia was 0-for-3...Brind'Amour became the third player in Hurricanes history to have his number retired, joining Ron Francis (10) and Glen Wesley (2)...He was dealt from the Flyers to Carolina on January 23, 2000 and spent the remaining 10-plus seasons with the franchise.

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