DALLAS, TEXAS – Captain Eric Staal scored the eventual game-winner as the Carolina Hurricanes overwhelmed the Dallas Stars to earn a 6-4 win at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.
Staal’s two-goal and one assist performance supported goals from Jeff Skinner, Patrick Dwyer, Victor Rask, and Jiri Tlusty, while goaltender Cam Ward made 23 saves and earned his six win of the season, pushing his record in the month of November to 6-2.
“Cam’s been good here in the month of November,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“He’s a legit number one guy in this league and he’s got a good pedigree to him, and he’s been real good for us.”
Dallas’ Tyler Seguin scored two goals, adding to his league lead that currently stands at 14, while the Stars used both goaltenders, Kari Lehtonen and Anders Lindback, to split duties in facing the Hurricanes’ 25-shot output on the night.
Scoring only two goals total while losing its previous three games, and in particular, a 2-0 loss at home to San Jose on Sunday, heightened the urgency for Carolina to finally end its scoring drought.
“It’s about the process, right?” Peters pointed out.
“We had 40-plus (shots) the other day and couldn’t get any, and then all of a sudden you end up with six. So, you just gotta’ stay with it. You gotta’ believe in what you’re doin’.”
However, it looked bleak for Carolina once again early on, trailing Dallas 2-0 following the first period as Jamie Benn and Seguin gave the Stars the early lead.
Skinner’s goal then began a three-goal spurt in a span of six minutes, adding Dwyer’s and Rask’s on the power play, that gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game, leading 3-2 by the 8:30 mark of the second.
Tlusty added his team-leading eighth goal at 15:54 and forced Stars head coach Lindy Ruff to change out starter Lehtonen for Lindback after allowing four goals on 14 shots faced.
Carrying its 4-2 lead into the third period, Staal added his first of the game and Carolina shifted to cruise control with a three-goal lead, while Dallas pushed its pace up to a higher speed.
The Stars added a shorthanded goal from Cody Eakin and an even-strength goal, Seguin’s second of the game, and suddenly the Hurricanes’ comfortable margin was reduced to one goal with 7:05 remaining to play.
Fending off numerous offensive surges from the Stars, Staal scored his second of the game and with the help of Ward who made numerous key stops, preserved the team’s team’s first victory in four games and first as part of the its current five-game road trip.
“He was good all night,” Peters said of Staal.
“He was good early and he was good often, so I really liked his game – I liked his line. That’s what your captain does. He’s been excellent for us when he’s come back off injury in Vancouver. He’s changed our team a little bit. I think now you’ll see him take off here.”
“We’re gonna’ be on the road a little bit and we need contributions from everybody, and I thought we got that tonight,” Peters continued.
“Our leaders have to lead and they’ve done that. We’ve got a real strong room, so when we were down two on the road after twenty, the room was real good – very good composure. I thought we played with good pace and we gotta’ continue to play with puck speed and gap speed and foot speed, and when we do that, we’re a good team.”
Notes: Carolina finished 1-for-3 on the power play while killing off both man-down situations they were in…The Hurricanes finished with a 62-percent success rate (47-29) in the faceoff circle…Carolina finished the game with 12 different players posting at least one point…Staal and Skinner each finished with four shots on goal – a third of the team’s output.