Flyers open season with 2-0 victory over Hurricanes
NHL.com | Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:17 AM
Ray Emery's return to the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers was a resounding success.
Emery stopped 28 shots and the Flyers got power-play goals by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards 22 seconds apart early in the second period as Philadelphia opened its season with a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
Emery played in Russia last season after Ottawa bought out his contract in the summer of 2008 -- 13 months after he'd led the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers signed him to a one-year deal and gave him the starting job on a team that has championship aspirations.
"He's looked more comfortable every day," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "He looks alert, he's finding pucks, he makes saves on effort and he was tremendous."
The 27-year-old looked sharp in his first game as a Flyer, making eight saves in each of the first two periods and 12 more in the third for his ninth NHL shutout. He got plenty of help from Philadelphia's penalty-killers, who killed all eight Carolina power plays.
"We got a lead, and we were able to keep it," Emery said after the Flyers beat the Hurricanes for the eighth time in their last 10 meetings. His last two complete games against Carolina have both been shutouts.
Emery preserved the shutout with 70 seconds left when he got in front of Tuomo Ruutu's deflection of a screened slapper from the right point after it pinballed off a couple of bodies, then beat Ruutu to the rebound and covered the puck.
It was the first time in franchise history that the Hurricanes have been shut out on opening night.
"We definitely had the opportunities, especially on the power play," center Eric Staal said. "I don't think we moved it around terribly bad. It just didn't fall for us. We had a lot of chances, (hit) a couple posts. ... We were hoping to get to the net and kind of get an ugly one."
The Hurricanes thought they had opened the scoring 12:27 into the game when Staal slammed a 10-footer from the right circle into the net off a scramble. But the goal was waved off by referee Frederick L'Ecuyer, who ruled that Andrew Alberts had hand-passed the puck to Ray Whitney before Whitney fed a wide-open Staal.
The Flyers got their second power play of the night when Whitney was called for hooking Richards at 15:05. Newcomer Chris Pronger had an excellent chance 50 seconds later when he teed up a 50-foot slapper through a screen, only to be denied by Ward -- who seconds later stopped rookie James van Riemsdyk from the doorstep.
Ward finished the period with 15 saves to eight for Emery.
However, Carolina's Sergei Samsonov took a double minor for high-sticking with 30 seconds left in the first period, and the Flyers needed just 47 seconds after the opening faceoff in the second to cash in both halves of the extended advantage.
Carter opened the scoring at 25 seconds when he nudged home a loose puck. Ward appeared to have it covered, but Carter slid the puck free and poked it in.
Just 22 seconds later, Richards tipped a wrister by Simon Gagne from the right circle past a screened Ward to double the lead. One of the assists went to van Riemsdyk, the first NHL point for the No. 2 pick in the 2007 Entry Draft.
"Special teams bailed us out tonight," Richards said. "Penalty-killing did a good job, we scored on a couple of power plays ... and that was the difference."
Staal nearly scored five minutes later when his power-play wrister from the right circle beat Emery but rang off the far post. That came during the first of three consecutive power plays for the 'Canes, but Carolina was unable to turn the advantages into goals. The Hurricanes outshot the Flyers 8-7 and carried the play but had nothing to show for it.
Carolina got its sixth power play 4:14 into the third period when Danny Syvret was called for slashing, but the 'Canes again couldn't capitalize. They had another near-miss with just under seven minutes left when Matt Cullen's sweeping wrister from the right circle hit Pronger's stick and clanked off the right post. Braydon Coburn's delay of game penalty with 5:56 left was an easy kill, and Pronger's last-minute slashing call did no damage.
"When you don't score on the power play, you're always feeling like that was the difference in the game for you," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "But in terms of some of the (other) shots we got in tight, we'd like to (have scored on) those."
Both teams hit the road for games as part of Face-Off Saturday. Carolina is at Boston and Philadelphia travels to New Jersey.
--John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team online media was used in this report