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Colorado at Carolina

Cullen's first hat trick leads 'Canes past visiting Avs

CBSSports.com wire reports

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes are playing playoff hockey just to get into the postseason.

"We've been playing some pretty good playoff hockey, I think," Matt Cullen said after scoring three goals in the Hurricanes' 5-2 victory over Colorado on Sunday.

"I think the guys have realized the opportunity that we have in front of us. We're right on the doorstep. We've talked a lot about bringing a playoff mentality right now, and we've seen that the last few games and gotten results."

Carolina has won three straight and four of five to move within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes also are just four points out of fourth place.

Cullen had the first hat trick of his 11-year NHL career. He scored in each period, the last an empty-netter to delight the sellout crowd of 18,860 at the RBC Center.

Joni Pitkanen and Ryan Bayda also scored for Carolina.

"We had eight power plays and we didn't get any goals, so that was disappointing," Pitkanen said. "But we got two points, so that's what's most important."

Carolina coach Paul Maurice said the key to making a run at the playoffs was keeping an even keel. He's been all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with this team in 2002, during his first stint as Carolina's coach.

"You look at the standings and you say, 'You're always chasing eighth,"' Maurice said. "But we're four points out of fourth. ... We've won four of the last five games. Had we not, it'd be over. Then you're sitting eight points back, and you're in a world of trouble. Being able to handle that, and not getting too excited about a win like today, that's the key to this time of the year."

Cam Ward made 17 saves for Carolina, which outshot the Avalanche 39-19. Darcy Tucker and Wojtek Wolski scored for the Avalanche, who totaled 23 penalty minutes.

Cullen recorded his 400th career NHL point with his second goal, which came early in the second period and gave Carolina a 2-1 lead.

Pitkanen followed up Tuomo Ruutu's shot with 2:54 left in the second period to give the Hurricanes a lead they would not relinquish.


  • Andrew Raycroft made 34 saves for the Avalanche.
  • Chad LaRose had two assists for Carolina.
  • Cullen now has 19 goals for the season, moving him past Ray Whitney for second on the team behind Eric Staal (27 goals).
  • Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was part of the Military Appreciation Day crowd.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Chad LaRose (center) gives props to Matt Cullen, who scores the second of his three goals.  (Getty Images)
Chad LaRose (center) gives props to Matt Cullen, who scores the second of his three goals. (Getty Images)
Colorado (28-31-1)1102
Carolina  (31-25-5) «1225
Three Stars
M. Cullen

Goals: 3
Assist(s): 0
J. Pitkanen

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
C. LaRose

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2

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Scoring Summary
59.0Wojtek Wolski (14), Slap Shot, Unassisted.
07:00Matt Cullen (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: LaRose, Pitkanen
01:19Matt Cullen (18), Wrap Shot. Assist: LaRose, Whitney
02:12Darcy Tucker (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stewart, Clark
17:06Joni Pitkanen (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ruutu, Seidenberg
08:49Ryan Bayda (5), Wrist Shot. Assist: Jokinen, Babchuk
19:28Matt Cullen (19), Empty Net. Assist: Whitney
Penalty Summary
01:10Hejduk, 2 min, High-Sticking
03:55Stewart, 5 min, Fighting
03:55Conboy, 5 min, Fighting
08:32Hejduk, 2 min, Tripping
12:16McCormick, 2 min, Roughing
15:40Tucker, 2 min, Slashing
15:40Jokinen, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
17:54McCormick, 2 min, High-Sticking
07:58LaRose, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
15:12Babchuk, 2 min, Holding
16:14Wolski, 2 min, Tripping
19:31Guite, 2 min, Hooking
01:41Laperriere, 2 min, Tripping
11:27Tucker, 2 min, Slashing
13:19Ruutu, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
Shots On Goal
Andrew Raycroft58:48344
Cam Ward59:49172
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Game Information
Attendance - 18680
Referees - Stephane Auger, Gord Dwyer
Linesmen - Brian Mach, Jean Morin
Other Games
Tor 3 Final
Pitt 2 Final
Wash 5
Min 2 Final
Chi 1
Bos 3 Final
TB 4