RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Ottawa Senators needed barely 3 minutes to take a two-goal lead, and the rough start left Carolina goaltender Martin Gerber a bit shellshocked.
``They're for sure better feelings out there,'' he said with a smile. ``But the game is over after 60 minutes.''
Indeed it is.
Frantisek Kaberle scored early in the third period, Gerber finished with 44 saves and the Hurricanes rallied from that deficit to hand Ottawa its first loss of the season, 3-2 on Monday night.
The Nashville Predators (7-0) are the only remaining unbeaten team in the NHL.
``Do you want to lose 5-1 or 3-2 in a tough game? Either way, it's a loss,'' Senators center Bryan Smolinski said. ``We put them on their heels real quick, but they stormed back.''
Eric Staal and Matt Cullen also had goals for the Hurricanes, who remained unbeaten in three home games and won for the fourth time in five games overall. Gerber held the fourth-highest scoring team in the NHL to its lowest output of the season.
``When you make mistakes against good teams, they come back to haunt you,'' Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. ``We got careless with the puck, and they play together. We've been doing that.''
The Senators were the last Eastern Conference team without a loss after winning their first six games. But after scoring twice in the first 3 minutes of the first period, they couldn't solve Gerber, who started for the first time since he injured his hip in the opener.
``I don't think there was any question that he was the difference,'' Cullen said. ``He was dynamite.''
Patrick Eaves got his first career goal only 14 seconds after the opening faceoff and Jason Spezza added another a couple of minutes later to put Ottawa up 2-0. Before play began following Spezza's goal, Carolina enforcer Jesse Boulerice squared off with Brian McGrattan, and the fight appeared to spur the comeback by the Hurricanes.
``Jesse went out there and tried to rally the guys, and I think he did,'' Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Hurricanes ended the period with a 9-8 advantage in shots, then cut the deficit to 2-1 on Staal's sixth goal of the season. It was helped by a poorly timed short-handed rush by Chris Kelly and Zdeno Chara, who failed to score and gave up an edge on the other end.
Goaltender Dominik Hasek slammed his stick to the ice repeatedly to warn his teammates, but no one listened. Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour then raced down the right boards and fed Staal a pass through Wade Redden.
``When you've got an early lead like that, you don't want to back off at all,'' Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden said. ``But I think they just kept pounding and kept working, and they got a few breaks, got a few goals, and before you know it, it's a 2-2 game.''
Midway through the second, Cullen tied it on a nifty feed from Ray Whitney before Kaberle gave the Hurricanes the lead early in the final period. He got the puck near the blue line and quickly shot it through a double screen of Brind'Amour and Josef Vasicek.
It bounced in off the post, and the Hurricanes held on to move into first place in the Southeast Division.
``It's where you want to be,'' Cullen said. ``And I don't think we've played our best hockey yet.''
Notes: Carolina C Kevyn Adams left the game in the first period after a vicious, but clean hit from Vaclav Varada. Adams slowly got to his skates and headed to the bench, leaving his stick on the ice. He went straight to the locker room but returned before the end of the period. ... The Senators, who arrived in Raleigh on Saturday after their game at Florida was postponed by Hurricane Wilma, fell to 3-1 on the road.
|Patrick Eaves ASST: Bryan Smolinski|
1 - 0 OTT
|PPG - Jason Spezza ASST: Dany Heatley , Wade Redden|
2 - 0 OTT
|PPG - Eric Staal ASST: Rod Brind'Amour , Justin Williams|
2 - 1 OTT
|Matt Cullen ASST: Ray Whitney , Aaron Ward|
2 - 2 Tie
|Frantisek Kaberle ASST: NONE|
3 - 2 CAR
|Power Play %||16.8%||18.8%|
|% on Road||18.2%||16.1%|
|% at Home||15.5%||21.6%|
|Rod Brind'Amour Hooking|
|Jesse Boulerice Fighting (maj)|
|Brian McGrattan Fighting (maj)|
|Brian Pothier Tripping|
|Chris Phillips Interference|
|Erik Cole Hooking|
|Bryan Smolinski Holding|
|Peter Schaefer Hooking|
|Niklas Nordgren Slashing|
|Zdeno Chara Roughing|
|Wade Redden Tripping|
|Brian McGrattan Too many men/ice - bench|
|Erik Cole Interference|
|Niklas Nordgren Interference|
|Bret Hedican Cross checking|
|Bret Hedican Interference|
|Chris Neil Interference on goalkeeper|