A day off did wonders for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The road-weary 'Canes shook off a loss at Vancouver on Sunday and rebounded with a solid 5-2 victory at San Jose on Tuesday night. Cam Ward stopped 41 shots and Chad LaRose had a goal and a pair of assists to help Carolina to its first victory in North America.
The Hurricanes swept two games from Minnesota in Helsinki as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere series, then began a five-game road trip with losses at Ottawa and Vancouver. But a day off after Sunday's 5-1 to the Canucks appeared to do wonders for the 'Canes, who have stops in Los Angeles on Wednesday and Phoenix on Saturday before heading back for their home opener on Oct. 27.
"The things we wanted to do we didn't do in Vancouver and we didn't have success. We directly did a lot of them tonight and it's good early in the season to have a night where you get five," coach Paul Maurice said. "It just gets more people feeling good about themselves and feeling like they're having a good start to their season, which is really important."
Eric Staal, Eric Cole, Patrick Dwyer and Joni Pitkanen also scored for the Hurricanes (3-2-0).
San Jose, which split two NHL Premiere games with Columbus in Stockholm, lost its home opener to Atlanta on Saturday. The Sharks got two goals from Patrick Marleau after they trailed 3-0 early in the second period, and Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan clearly wasn't happy with his team's performance.
"There are always excuses of traveling to Europe and what not, but I don't buy into that we've been home for 10 days," he said. "Try to use the excuse we haven't played many games, we just played two games in four nights. I think it comes from the individuals -- it's the way the prepare and the type of game they want to play right now, and it's not the right formula."
Carolina got on the board 5:56 into the game when a turnover set up Staal on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush with LaRose. Staal opted to shoot and beat Antti Niemi from 15 feet.
"When he gets a shot like that, he doesn't miss," LaRose said.
Cole made it 2-0 by beating Niemi from between the hash marks at 17:35, and Dwyer knocked in a rebound 2:43 into the second period for a 3-0 lead.
But the Sharks rallied behind Marleau, who scored twice in less than 3 1/2 minutes to make it a one-goal game after two periods.
Marleau got the Sharks on the board at 6:34 when he got a piece of Dan Boyle's shot from between the circle and deflected the puck past Ward. He made it 3-2 at 9:46 during a power play by beating Ward to the short side with a high slot from the bottom of the left circle.
The Sharks pressed the play, outshooting Carolina 19-9 in the second period, but were stymied by Ward. The goaltender's best save came with just under five minutes left in the period when he robbed Devin Setoguchi on a 3-on-2 break.
"One period isn't going to win you many hockey games," Marleau said. "We've been making mental mistakes, and they've been winding up in the back of our net."
LaRose gave Carolina some breathing room early in the final period, thanks to some brilliant work by Staal. Carolina's captain stripped the puck from Douglas Murray in the corner to the left of Niemi, spun and found LaRose heading for the net. Staal's quick pass was on the mark, and LaRose hit the wide-open net at 2:11 for his first goal of the season.
"What that (the fourth goal) does is say our third periods aren't going to be played in our end of the ice," Maurice said. "Then the next shift right after that was fantastic and it kind of sets the minds right that we're trying to go forward here, even if we have the lead."
Pitkanen took a drop pass from Tom Kostopoulos and stepped into a slapper from the top of the left circle that beat Niemi cleanly at 7:05.
"In relation to our last game, we kept the puck moving forward in the first and the third, I thought, a lot better than we did in Vancouver," Maurice said. "We did a much better job of managing the puck, supporting the puck. The rest of your game comes of that, the defense are up the ice, the gaps are tighter and when we get down, we have a good goaltender and that's probably the overlooked piece when we win some nights."
Material from team media was used in this report