RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes were able to celebrate a 7-1 victory Wednesday over the Ottawa Senators.
Eric Staal produced his 11th career hat trick and his 200th career goal, Chad LaRose scored twice and the Hurricanes easily ended a two-game losing streak - easing a bit of the angst from whippings from the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens last week - with a big win at the RBC Center.
Still, the Hurricanes could take but only so much satisfaction from this game, on this day. Not after all the Senators went through before playing.
The Sens did not arrive in Raleigh until a few hours before game time. They were in Ottawa on Wednesday morning to attend a memorial service for the daughter of Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson. Daron Richardson, 14, who committed suicide on Friday.
"Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with their organization and the Richardson family," Staal said. "Obviously an awful situation. ... They looked like a team with a lot on their mind."
No one knew how the Senators would respond - be emotionally charged or emotionally flat. In turn, Ottawa trailed 4-0 after a first period in which Staal, who finished the game with five points, scored twice on the power play, defenseman Tim Gleason scored off the rush and LaRose had a goal and assisted on Gleason's score.
"It's an incredibly difficult situation," Canes coach Paul Maurice said of the Sens. "To have to deal with what would have had to be a very emotional service [Wednesday] morning, then get on a plane and fly ...
"It was not our intent to run the score up by any means. We had a power play in the third, and I've got two guys [Staal and LaRose] on our bench with two goals. That's why they went out."
Staal would get that third-period goal, on a Sergei Samsonov pass, at 13:44 for a 6-1 lead. The Canes' first hat trick of the season had caps flying onto the ice, and Tuomo Ruutu added the final goal at 15:54.
Ten Carolina players found the score sheet.
Cam Ward, pulled in the second period of the 8-1 loss to the Flyers and 7-2 beating by the Canadiens, bounced back with a tight, solid effort in net. He had 23 saves, not giving up a goal until a Daniel Alfredsson power-play goal midway through the third after the Canes led 5-0 on LaRose's second goal.
"It was a good team effort by everybody," said LaRose, who had two assists in tying his career high with four points. "We had a little lull in the second period but other than that it was a good win."
LaRose and other players didn't learn until a few hours before game time that teammates Tom Kostopoulos and Anton Babchuk had been traded to the Calgary Flames. That was an eye-opener of sorts.
"It's tough we lost a couple of guys, some good guys," LaRose said.
But the Hurricanes, coming off two productive days of practice, had the early jump. Gleason gave the Canes a quick lead, and Staal got his milestone 200th at 10:41 of the first, stuffing the puck past goalie Brian Elliott, who did not make it out of the period.
Staal's second came at 16:05 of the first, on the rebound of a Jussi Jokinen shot, and LaRose did the same to a Gleason shot before the period ended.
Staal could have had a hat trick - or more - by the end of the second period. He twice was denied on shorthanded breakaways, first by Elliott in the first period then Pascal Leclaire in the second.
"If he could score on some breakaways, he could have had a big night," LaRose said, joking. "Naw, he played great. He's our leader."
The Senators (9-9-1) hit a few posts and did regroup in the second period. Peter Regin once found himself alone with the puck in front of the Carolina net, only to have Ward make a nifty glove save.
Regin slammed his stick into the boards in frustration, perhaps symbolic of the Sens' feelings.
"You needed something to go your way," Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. "You needed a bounce or break to go your way early to maybe get our heads and hearts into it."
But that was not to be. On a long day for the Senators, it proved to be the Canes' night.
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