ATLANTA — For the Carolina Hurricanes, the celebration was brief. Sadly for the Canes, all too brief.
Just moments after Jeff Skinner had given the Canes a 1-0 lead over the Atlanta Thrashers early in the third period of their preseason game Saturday, Sergei Samsonov crashed head-first into the boards after a hit and trip by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
Samsonov was motionless for several moments and quickly attended to by medical personnel. The Hurricanes' veteran forward was carried off the ice on a stretcher, his neck in a brace, and was transported to an Atlanta hospital.
Carolina would win the game 1-0, as Cam Ward shut out the Thrashers with 32 saves. But Samsonov's injury, which quieted the small crowd at Philips Arena, overshadowed much that happened on the ice.
Often, preseason games are as much about moments as deciding a winner. So it was Saturday until Samsonov's injury.
"When he left the ice he had full sensation in his extremities," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "He's being checked out now, but our expectation is that he will be fine. He'll be sore, but they're very very careful with those things."
"If anything we played our best hockey after it. I think what happens is you get frozen almost to a panic and a fear when you see something like that. Then the trainer comes over and says he's going to be fine, and it puts you in a pretty good mood."
The Hurricanes would like to think Skinner's first goal in a Carolina sweater - albeit in a preseason game - will be the first of many by the 18-year-old forward and a moment to remember. It came at 1:17 of the third, on a quick shot that goaltender Chris Mason couldn't stop.
Another memorable moment for the Canes was having two Staals in uniform. Eric Staal , for the first time, was playing with one of his brothers as Jared Staal made his first appearance for Carolina.
"Finally getting to play with my older brother should be a cool experience," Jared said Saturday morning.
While the four Staal brothers see each other in the summers back in their hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, working out and skating together, Eric said he hasn't seen Jared play very much hockey the last 10 years. Eric left home at 14 and has been away from Jared during hockey seasons, first in junior and then in the NHL.
"Every time I came home in the summer he'd be another couple of inches taller," Eric said. "It's one thing to skate together in the summer and see the skill level, but it's another thing to be on the ice, with the physicality, with the pace of the game. It's a totally different thing just being on the ice in practice or a scrimmage."
Jared Staal may begin the season in Charlotte with the Checkers of the American Hockey League. Reassigned Saturday were forwards Nick Dodge, Stefan Chaput, Nicholas Blanchard, Matt Kennedy, Mike McKenzie, Oskar Osala and Chris Terry; defensemen Brett Bellemore, Casey Borer, Zack Fitgerald, Michal Jordan and Kyle Lawson; and goalie Mike Murphy.
Hurricanes 1, Thrashers 0
First--None. Penalties--Boychuk, Car (high-sticking), 3:27; Welch, Atl (interference), 6:13; Little, Atl (tripping), 14:18; Pettersson, Atl (tripping), 16:39.
Second--None. Penalties--Harrison, Car (hooking), :35; E.Staal, Car (elbowing), 6:26; Machacek, Atl (hooking), 7:35; LaRose, Car (interference), 13:52; Modin, Atl (hooking), 14:07.
Third--1, Carolina, Skinner 1 (Cole), 1:17. Penalties--Byfuglien, Atl (tripping), 1:55; Harrison, Car, major (fighting), 6:37; Stewart, Atl, major (fighting), 6:37; Matsumoto, Car (holding), 6:59; Gleason, Car, minor-major-misconduct (instigator, fighting), 11:01; Eager, Atl, minor-major (goaltender interference, fighting), 11:01; Welch, Atl (slashing), 14:31; Enstrom, Atl (delay of game), 15:51.
Shots on goal--Carolina 4-15-10--29. Atlanta 8-15-9--32. Power-play opportunities--Carolina 0 of 8; Atlanta 0 of 5. Goalies--Carolina, Ward 1-1-0 (32 shots-32 saves). Atlanta, Mason 0-1-0 (29-28).
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