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Carolina at Atlanta

Hurricanes rout Thrashers, inch closer to playoffs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The Carolina Hurricanes have reduced the playoff race to win day.

After routing Atlanta 6-1 on Friday, the Hurricanes need a home win Saturday night over Tampa Bay or a regulation loss by the New York Rangers to New Jersey to make the playoffs for the first time since advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1z-Pittsburgh487233
2y-Montreal486326
3y-Washington485724
4x-Boston486224
5x-Toronto485726
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
7x-Ottawa485621
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
Eliminated
9o-Winnipeg485122
10o-Philadelphia484922
11o-New Jersey484817
12o-Buffalo484814
13o-Carolina484218
14o-Tampa Bay484017
15o-Florida483612
Complete Playoff Race >>

"We're in control of our own fate," goalie Cam Ward said. "Certainly it is not over. Tomorrow will be a big day for us."

Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu each had a goal and two assists against the Thrashers.

"There have been moments like this last week when it looked pretty grim," forward Erik Cole said. "It was nice to see and be a part of our regrouping."

Cole, Joni Pitkanen, Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen also scored for Carolina, which led 6-0 on Ruutu's 19th, a power-play goal with 12:10 remaining.

Ward, who shut out Detroit 3-0 on Wednesday night, was just 39 seconds from earning his second straight shutout and the 17th of his career before Bryan Little's 18th goal made it 6-1.

The Hurricanes have won two straight, are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They got a big assist Thursday night when the Thrashers beat the Rangers 3-0 in New York.

Atlanta, which has lost three of four, showed its frustration in the third period.

Ondrej Pavelec broke his stick by throwing it against the wall and watching a big piece of it land near his blue line after Jokinen made it 5-0 with 13:20 left. The resulting unsportsmanlike penalty on Pavelec led to Ruutu's goal 70 seconds later.

"I feel like a loser right now, to be honest," Pavelec said after facing 32 shots. "It's hard to talk about this game now. To be down 6-0 in front of our home fans is very disappointing."

With 9:13 left in the game, Thrashers defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was given a game misconduct and whistled for roughing and slashing minors.

"We looked like a team that just played five games in a row on the road," Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. "Unfortunately, we can't talk about that or use it as an excuse, but we looked tired. We tried to win this game as individuals instead of as a team."

Ward, making his 15th straight start, stopped 18 of 19 shots to improve to 9-2-1 in his last 13. In 31 career appearances against Atlanta, Ward is 19-8-3.

"We played a really solid game," Ward said. "It was a quiet game for me most of the night."

Skinner's 31st goal came courtesy of Ruutu's takeaway in the neutral zone from Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian and his pass from the left circle. Skinner, who lead all NHL rookies with 62, made it 1-0 by beating Pavelec 3:03 into the first with a wrister.

"Hopefully tomorrow we'll execute the same way," Skinner said. "The whole team played well. We moved the puck with confidence."

Cole's 26th goal, a wrister that started with a giveaway by Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey, gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead 3:12 later.

Pitkanen's fifth goal put Carolina up 3-0 in the first minute of second as the defenseman easily moved past Mark Stuart in open ice to beat Pavelec.

In the third, Sutter added his 14th goal with 14:38 remaining and Jokinen his 19th with 13:20 left.

Carolina coach Paul Maurice believes his team has the proper mindset to earn a playoff spot.

"Nothing has really changed," Maurice said. "Tomorrow night is the one we're focusing on. It will be a challenge for us."

Notes

  • Cole scored five goals in six games against the Thrashers this season.
  • The Hurricanes went 5-0-1 in the season series.
  • In the last nine series meetings, Carolina is 8-1-0.
Copyright 2014 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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Jussi Jokinen has a pretty easy time to score as goalie Ondrej Pavelec is caught out of position. (AP)
Jussi Jokinen has a pretty easy time to score as goalie Ondrej Pavelec is caught out of position. (AP)

Scoreboard
Carolina  (40-30-11) «2136
Atlanta (34-35-12)0011
Three Stars
J. Skinner
CAR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
C. Ward
CAR


Saves: 18
Save Pct.: .947
T. Ruutu
CAR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
03:03 - Jeff Skinner (31), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ruutu
06:15 - Erik Cole (26), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stillman
2ND PERIOD
32.0Power Play - Joni Pitkanen (5), Wrist Shot. Assist: McBain
3RD PERIOD
05:22 - Brandon Sutter (14), Snap Shot. Assist: LaRose
06:40 - Jussi Jokinen (19), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ruutu, Skinner
07:50Power Play - Tuomo Ruutu (19), Wrist Shot. Assist: Jokinen, Skinner
19:21 - Bryan Little (18), Wrist Shot. Assist: Ladd, Wheeler
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
10:20Wheeler, 2 min, Roughing
11:46Thorburn, 2 min, Interference
18:47Hainsey, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
2ND PERIOD
12:02Antropov, 2 min, Slashing
3RD PERIOD
06:40Pavelec, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
10:47Byfuglien, 2 min, Roughing
10:47Byfuglien, 2 min, Slashing
10:47Byfuglien, 10 min, Misconduct
13:12Ruutu, 2 min, Tripping
19:28Tlusty, 2 min, Slashing
19:28Thorburn, 2 min, Slashing
Shots On Goal
 123T
CAR1081432
ATL67619
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Cam Ward59:57181
Ondrej Pavelec60:00266
Game Information
Attendance - 14652
Referees - Steve Kozari, Chris Rooney
Linesmen - Pierre Champoux, Brian Murphy
 
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