RALEIGH — Rescheduled games with noon starts apparently can be unpredictable, as Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller was quick to note Saturday.
You see it a lot. These afternoon games you dont know what to expect, Muller said.
The Canes topped the Ottawa Senators 6-3 at PNC Arena, in a game in which seven goals were scored in the second period. There were a few brain cramps, as Muller put it, and some loose defensive play but Carolina won its third straight and without Jeff Skinner or Alexander Semin scoring.
Manny Malhotra had two goals and an assist, Nathan Gerbe a goal and two assists and Drayson Bowman two assists. And that was the Canes third line.
Add in goals from Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu and Riley Nash and the Canes (23-19-9) had a season high in scoring and now have 11 goals in the past two games.
Defenseman Andrej Sekera, a man on the move throughout the game, finished with two assists and was named the games first star. Semin had his goal streak end at four games but closed with two assists as 11 players had points for the Canes, who have won nine of the past 12.
I just think its the brand of hockey that were playing a structured, detailed type game, Eric Staal said. When you do that, chances are going to come depending on who youre up against. I felt like we were hitting some open areas and capitalizing on the chances we got.
Gerbe, who had career-high three points, scored the only first-period goal swiping the puck, skating behind the net and scoring on a wraparound but there were a lot of open areas for both teams in the second. The Canes surged to a 4-0 lead as Staal and Malhotra scored 32 seconds apart and later Nash was unchecked and ripped one past Sens goalie Robin Lehner, who was lifted after the second period.
But Kyle Turris scored twice for the Sens (22-20-10), his second coming shorthanded. Ruutu, playing on the fourth line with Nash and Radek Dvorak, scored a power-play goal for a 5-2 lead with 32.3 seconds left in the period, only to have the Sens Mika Zibanejad knock one past Canes goalie Anton Khudobin 10 seconds later.
Khudobins reaction to the wild second period?
Well, I think angry, he said. You just cant give them freebies. If you put up four goals, you cant just give them the chance to come back in the game.
Craig Anderson replaced Lehner in net for Ottawa in the third but it was more of a tight-checking period, and the Canes hunkered down defensively. Malhotra had the only goal with an empty-netter in the final two minutes.
It was good to win this game on a good note, said Khudobin, who improved to 10-3-0.
The game was to have been played Friday night. But the Canes game Tuesday at Philadelphia was postponed by a snowstorm and rescheduled for Wednesday. Carolina then traveled Thursday to Buffalo, forcing the Ottawa game to move back a day.
The Senators had a charity event planned for Saturday night, necessitating the noon start. That threw everyone off their normal routines and neither team was sharp early.
I actually thought our start was good, but I guess the clock struck 2 in the second period, Sens coach Paul MacLean said. It exploded on us and we couldnt keep the puck out of our net or out of our end.
The Canes now are 11-0-1 in the past 12 games against Ottawa at PNC Arena, winning twice this year. Its a team Carolina could be battling for a playoff spot come April.
Another comes into PNC Arena on Monday. The Columbus Blue Jackets may be the hottest team in the league and are a Metropolitan Division rival.
As far as were concerned, we have to keep our foot on the gas, Malhotra said.
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