The Carolina Hurricanes finally had one of those games where the puck was going in the net, goaltender Cam Ward was at times brilliant in net and everything fell into place neatly.
The Canes ripped the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 Thursday at PNC Arena as Eric Staal had a goal and two assists, 11 players had points and Ward came up with some high-quality, did-you-see-that saves.
Ward, who has been slowed by a virus, had not started since March 14 as Anton Khudobin was the starter the past five games. But Ward looked strong and sharp, moving confidently in net and hardly being rattled after allowing an early goal to Brandon Sutter.
"I had a bit of a rough go with the sickness and just happy to be back feeling healthy again," Ward said.
Staal and Ryan Murphy scored in first period, then Jay McClement and Alexander Semin in the second as the Canes (27-36-10) broke it open. Andrej Nestrasil added a third-period power-play goal for a 5-1 lead before the Pens' Ian Cole scored a late goal.
The Pens (40-23-11) continue to deal with injury issues -- center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff are among those sidelined -- and were shorthanded for the game. They had a 19-man roster, dressing 11 forwards.
"Obviously they're a different team without Malkin out and with Ehrhoff, a good puck-mover, out as well," Staal said. "But we were good, we were solid. And Cam was really good. For the time he had off he made some huge saves."
Ward's stop on a David Perron shot in the first period was ESPN Sportscenter worthy. Perron had a good look at the net, but Ward reached out with his glove to snag the puck.
"To start the game I was a little bit anxious but once I made a couple of saves the nerves calmed down," Ward said.
Canes coach Bill Peters made a change for the game and put Eric Staal back on the wing with brother Jordan Staal at center and Nathan Gerbe at the other wing. Peters wanted to match that line against Sidney Crosby's line, and while it was on the ice when Sutter scored, the Staal line was dominant much of the game.
"I could have had probably six (goals)," Eric Staal said. "That's the most Grade-A's I've had probably for the year."
Canes forward Brad Malone, who had two assists, said the Staals looked like the Sedin twins -- Henrik and Daniel of the Vancouver Canucks -- in the way the two were crisscrossing and getting the puck to each other in the offensive zone.
Told the Staals were a bigger version of the Sedins, Malone smiled and said, "Yeah, meaner and tougher. But it was great to see those guys do that. It was just one of those nights where everybody was feeling pretty good."
Sutter's early goal came after Crosby swiped the puck from Jordan Staal in the Canes zone in a four-on-four sequence. But Staal atoned for the mistake by forcing a turnover behind the Pens net, then getting the puck to Eric Staal for his 20th goal of the season.
The Canes then began to use their speed to put together scoring rushes. Murphy scored off a Malone pass, and Malone also assisted on McClement's goal in the second period for a 3-1 lead.
Later in the second, Eric Staal got the puck to Riley Nash, who backhanded a pass to an open Semin for a score.
"We were better as a team as the game went on. We got our skating legs and I thought we moved the puck well and controlled a lot of the play," Eric Staal said. "We got the job done."