RALEIGH — It was the kind of game that keeps fans coming back for more.
It was the kind of game that causes coaches to turn grayer and goaltenders to have migraines.
What it was, was a frenetic, wide-open game Saturday between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning that had a little of everything and was missing little.
The Canes won it 6-4, on a night when Jussi Jokinen scored twice and added an assist, Eric Staal set a franchise record, and goaltender Cam Ward tied one. Chad LaRose notched the first power-play goal of his career, and rookie Jeff Skinner scored, again.
"It was an entertaining game," said Staal, who had a short-handed goal and two assists. "There were a few mistakes by both teams defensively, but for the most part it was up-tempo and aggressive."
The Hurricanes (22-16-6) were aggressive on the penalty kill. The Lightning, the Southeast Division leader, entered the game seventh in the NHL on the power play but failed on all five opportunities while the Canes struck three times.
In the second period, the Canes' penalty killers forced the Lightning into a pair of mistakes. Tampa Bay had five forwards on the ice, and when Martin St. Louis misplayed the puck near the blue line, Staal had a breakaway.
Staal missed on his attempt, but the puck went flying back around the boards in the zone. St. Louis tried to gather it, only to have Erik Cole take it away and quickly pass to Staal, who beat goalie Dwyane Roloson with a little backhander through the pads for a 5-3 lead at 12:51.
"When they run all forwards on their first power-play unit, sometimes you can take advantage of that," said Cole, who had three assists. "When [Staal] didn't hit the net, when it came around the boards I could see they were kind of looping away from it and only one guy going at it, so I tried to apply some pressure.
"We talked about creating up-ice pressure and trying to disrupt their flow on their breakout all the time, and fortunately we got a turnover. Staaler gave a yell, and it was a great play by him to tuck the second one in."
The Lightning made it a 5-4 game at 11:05 of the third on Simon Gagne's second goal of the night. But Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos was called for holding with 1:29 to play, then lost his cool, and Staal and Cole assisted on Jokinen's empty-netter that clinched it with 7 seconds left.
Staal now has points in eight straight games. The Canes captain has 474 for his career, topping the franchise record - since the relocation to North Carolina - of 473 set by former captain Rod Brind'Amour.
Ward, who had 30 saves, tied the franchise mark for games played by a goalie set by Arturs Irbe (309). But as Canes coach Paul Maurice said, "It's tough to be a goaltender."
Jokinen had a season-high 21:38 in ice time and showed off his versatility. He played all three forward positions and was used on three lines.
"We tried to get the [goalie] pads on him at the end, but he wouldn't do it," Maurice joked.
Jamie McBain scored on a power play, Jokinen had a 5-on-3 goal. and Staal came up with the short-handed goal in the second period as Carolina built a 5-3 lead.
LaRose's power-play goal came in the first. Bouncing out of the penalty box with seconds left in the power play, he took a perfect stretch pass from Joe Corvo and beat Roloson for a 1-1 tie.
Skinner scored his 16th of the season for Carolina in the first, which ended 2-2 as Stamkos scored early and Vincent Lecavalier late for the Lightning (26-16-5).
When Gagne scored his first goal, early in the second, Tampa Bay had a 3-2 lead. Then came a rash of penalties.
Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman was called for hooking at 3:28 of the second, and McBain blasted in the rebound of a Staal shot for a 3-3 tie. Stamkos was penalized for interference at 5:05, then Mattias Ohlund for holding Cole's stick at 5:16. The Canes had 1:49 of a 5-on-3 and used their timeout with 51 seconds left in the two-man advantage to set up a play.
Sergei Samsonov, back in the lineup after being a healthy extra Thursday in the 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, passed to Jokinen between the circles for a one-timer and 4-3 lead at 6:31. Skinner also assisted on the goal.
"They have a very good team, but I think we were the better team tonight," Jokinen said. "We got better as the game went on. It was a big two points."
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