RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Hurricanes made winning at home look downright easy at the beginning of the season. Perhaps a few lessons learned on their longest road trip can help them regain that superiority.
Rod Brind'Amour scored twice and Martin Gerber made 25 saves to help Carolina hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night, giving the Hurricanes consecutive home victories for the first time since early November.
Following a 7-0 start at the RBC Center, Carolina lost four of the next six before heading out for six games on the road against mostly Western Conference opponents.
``It was kind of the example we saw out on the West Coast,'' defenseman Aaron Ward said. ``They really take advantage of being at home. That's how we have to approach it here.''
Cory Stillman originally was credited with giving Carolina a 1-0 lead in the second period before it was changed, allowing Brind'Amour to get his first multi-goal game in two months. He scored his second with a brilliant effort after digging the puck out of the corner from his knees, then getting to his feet to take a pass from Ward behind the net.
His wraparound beat Pascal Leclaire to secure the win for the Hurricanes. They beat Chicago 5-3 on Tuesday night and added this one for their first home winning streak since beating the Florida Panthers on Nov. 5 to complete the perfect start.
Carolina has three more games left on its longest homestand.
``We've got to win them all,'' coach Peter Laviolette said. ``We have got a chance to really take advantage of the schedule here.''
Mike Rupp scored his first goal of the season for the Blue Jackets to cut the deficit in half early in the final period, but the Hurricanes held on behind Gerber, who has solidified his spot at the top of the depth chart with five consecutive solid starts.
He pulled a muscle in his hip in the opener and split time early on with rookie Cam Ward, but Carolina sent Ward to Lowell of the AHL for what was termed a conditioning stint. Gerber has essentially kept him off the ice.
``I don't think it's that big of a deal,'' Gerber said of his status as the No. 1 goalie. ``Of course, I want to be the guy in the net, but at the end of the day, you have to win hockey games.''
Brind'Amour's first goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage when Cale Hulse (roughing) and Dan Fritsche (tripping) were called for penalties seconds apart deep in their own end. Stillman took a pass from Whitney and sent a one-timer toward the net, and Brind'Amour deflected it past Leclaire.
``I felt it hit the stick, but I'm not sure it changed the direction of the puck,'' Brind'Amour said. ``But you've got to score on 5-on-3s.''
Columbus didn't when the Hurricanes were down two players near the end of the first period after Erik Cole and Whitney went to the penalty box. The Blue Jackets couldn't solve Gerber and the Carolina defense, with Brind'Amour, Ward and Glen Wesley leading the charge.
``They're playing as a team, that's why they're winning, that's why they're leading their division,'' Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. ``They deserved the win, with a good goalie and good defense.''
It was the third loss in four games for the Blue Jackets.
``We didn't play a bad game, but they played well,'' Leclaire said. ``In the end, we lost.''
Notes: Before the game, the Blue Jackets sent G Martin Prusek to Syracuse of the AHL. He was 3-3 with a 3.22 goals-against average in nine games with Columbus. ... Carolina C Eric Staal was held without a point for the second straight game, the first time that's happened this season.
|PPG - Rod Brind'Amour (11) ASST: Cory Stillman (19), Ray Whitney (15)|
1 - 0 CAR
|Rod Brind'Amour (12) ASST: Aaron Ward (8), Justin Williams (14)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Mike Rupp (1) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 CAR
|Ron Hainsey Hooking against Kevyn Adams|
|Jaroslav Balastik Slashing against Eric Staal|
|Ray Whitney Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Erik Cole Hooking against David Vyborny|
|Luke Richardson Interference against Rod Brind'Amour|
|Eric Staal Hooking against Bryan Berard|
|Cale Hulse Roughing against Craig Adams|
|Dan Fritsche Tripping against Matt Cullen|
|Jason Chimera Slashing against Frantisek Kaberle|
|Jody Shelley Tripping against Chad LaRose|
|Ray Whitney Holding against Duvie Westcott|