Atlanta at Carolina

Hurricanes flatten Thrashers, move closer to clinching Southeast


RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Atlanta Thrashers kept drawing penalties and Carolina kept scoring. The Hurricanes strengthened their lead in the Southeast Division with a power-play performance that was, well, powerful.

Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Hamilton each scored two of Carolina's franchise-record-tying five power-play goals in the Hurricanes' 7-1 rout of lowly Atlanta on Friday night that moved them closer to clinching the division.

Eric Staal had a goal and two assists, Joe Corvo also scored with the man-advantage, and Trevor Letowski added a short-handed goal for the Hurricanes.

"All the time we were talking about shooting the puck," Ruutu said. "We did tonight, and that's why we got those goals. If you don't shoot, you're not going to get goals."

Carolina outshot the Thrashers 35-26, led 4-0 midway through the second period, and earned another easy win against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes improved to 6-1-1 against Atlanta, scoring at least five goals in all but one of those victories.

Jim Slater scored a short-handed goal, and Johan Hedberg stopped 28 shots but gave up all seven goals. Atlanta lost its eighth of 10 and is just three points ahead of last-place Tampa Bay in the East. The Thrashers were whistled for 21 penalties and gave Carolina 11 power-play chances.

"We just wore (the penalty-kill unit) out," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "We tried to use some new guys in there because they were so worn out. ... You take that many penalties, it's going to get to you."

Cam Ward made 25 saves in his career-high 16th straight start for the Hurricanes, who extended their division lead over idle Washington to four points with four games left.

Carolina has earned points in 14 of 16 games (12-2-2) and is closing in on a return to the playoffs after slipping from Stanley Cup champion in 2006 to postseason no-show last year.

"We could feel the energy in (the dressing) room, before the game even started, that we were going to be ready to play and fired up," Staal said. "And we came out hard, we came out flying. We were going after them in the beginning of the game."

They dominated this one from the opening faceoff, scoring twice in the first 7½ minutes and regularly outworking the Thrashers.

Staal tapped the rebound of Erik Cole's shot past Hedberg 42 seconds in for his team-leading 36th goal. Hamilton then made it 2-0 when he caught Atlanta with only three skaters during a switch, skated over the blue line and beat Hedberg with a hard slap shot.

The quick offense "kind of relaxes everybody into the game," Hamilton said. "We had a great start, we had a great first shift and just kept following it up."

And for all the chances Carolina had on the power play, its performance while killing an early penalty also helped set the tone. After Cole was whistled for roughing, the Hurricanes generated more quality scoring chances than the Thrashers, with Staal and Frantisek Kaberle taking turns peppering Hedberg.

"We came out skating, we came out to compete, we came out to get a win," Staal said. "And it didn't matter if it was short-handed, power play or even strength - we were skating, we were shooting (and) we even ended up getting a couple of looks."

Corvo and Ruutu tacked on insurance goals in the second, scoring on the power play in a span of about 2½ minutes. Corvo's one-timer converted a 5-on-3 advantage, and Ruutu's drive from the slot pushed the lead to 4-0.

"It was one of those games that got out of hand," Waddell said.


  • Cole, Kaberle and Tim Gleason had two assists apiece for Carolina.
  • Hurricanes D Bret Hedican didn't return after sustaining a lower-body injury in the first period.
  • Carolina LW Wade Brookbank skated in his 100th NHL game, and the physical forward marked the milestone by fighting Atlanta LW Eric Boulton late in the first.
  • For a 26-second stretch in the second period, Atlanta had five players in the penalty box.
  • Staal has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in eight games against the Thrashers.
Copyright 2018 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.
Tuomo Ruutu finds net twice -- on the power play -- to help Carolina dismantle Atlanta.  (AP)
Tuomo Ruutu finds net twice -- on the power play -- to help Carolina dismantle Atlanta. (AP)
Related Links
Atlanta (32-39-8)0101
Carolina  (42-30-6) «2237
Three Stars
T. Ruutu

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
E. Staal

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
T. Letowski

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
42.0Eric Staal (36), Backhand Shot. Assist: Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov
06:14Power Play - Jeff Hamilton (8), Slap Shot. Assist: Joe Corvo, Eric Staal
05:29Power Play - Joe Corvo (13), Slap Shot. Assist: Erik Cole, Eric Staal
07:50Power Play - Tuomo Ruutu (8), Snap Shot. Assist: Trevor Letowski, Keith Aucoin
16:53Short - Jim Slater (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Colby Armstrong
10:09Power Play - Tuomo Ruutu (9), Wrist Shot. Assist: Scott Walker, Frantisek Kaberle
13:33Short - Trevor Letowski (8), Wrist Shot. Assist: Chad LaRose, Tim Gleason
17:51Power Play - Jeff Hamilton (9), Slap Shot. Assist: Frantisek Kaberle, Tim Gleason
Penalty Summary
01:41Brookbank, 2 min, Roughing
01:41McCarthy, 2 min, Holding
04:53White, 2 min, Kneeing
07:37Cole, 2 min, Roughing
14:09Brookbank, 5 min, Fighting
14:09Boulton, 5 min, Fighting
14:29Armstrong, 2 min, Elbowing
14:39Cole, 2 min, Goaltender Interference
15:55Jensen, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
02:20Enstrom, 2 min, Tripping
02:27Valabik, 2 min, Tripping
02:27Cole, 2 min, Roughing
03:31Slater, 10 min, Misconduct
03:54Holik, 2 min, Bench - Abuse of Officials
03:54White, 2 min, Hooking
06:43Holik, 2 min, High-Sticking
09:09Holik, 2 min, High-Sticking
14:11Aucoin, 2 min, Boarding
16:42Kwiatkowski, 2 min, Interference
19:27Kaberle, 2 min, Tripping
01:47Wallin, 2 min, Holding
05:04Brookbank, 2 min, Hooking
05:04Exelby, 2 min, Roughing
05:04Boulton, 2 min, Cross-Checking
05:04Wallin, 2 min, Roughing
08:53Boulton, 2 min, Holding
11:08LaRose, 2 min, Hooking
12:11Cole, 2 min, Holding
16:43Thorburn, 2 min, Tripping
18:41Valabik, 2 min, Instigator
18:41Valabik, 10 min, Misconduct
18:41Valabik, 5 min, Fighting
18:41Boulton, 2 min, Roughing
18:41Valabik, 10 min, Game Misconduct
18:41Wallin, 10 min, Game Misconduct
18:41Wallin, 2 min, Roughing
18:41LaRose, 2 min, Roughing
Shots On Goal
Johan Hedberg59:39287
Cam Ward60:00251
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Game Information
Attendance - 17833
Referees - Rob Martell, Dan O'Rourke
Linesmen - Don Henderson, Jean Morin
Other Games
Van 0 Final
Min 4
Mon 4 Final
Buf 3
SJ 3 Final
Ana 1
Phi 4 Final
NJ 5
StL 4 Final
Det 3
Edm 4 Final
Colo 5
Nash 2 Final
Colu 0