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GAME NOTES: Ron Francis Night - Carolina vs. Atlanta

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Atlanta Thrashers

Saturday, Jan. 28, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
RBC Center - Raleigh, NC

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Hurricanes: 35-11-4 (74 pts.), Southeast Division, 1st place
Thrashers: 23-22-6 (52 pts.), Southeast Division, 3rd place

Saturday's Game and Festivities
The Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes return to the RBC Center on Saturday for the second game of a home-and-home series against the Atlanta Thrashers (7 p.m., FSN South, Hurricanes Radio Network). The Hurricanes won the front end of the home-and-home set 5-1 on Thursday at Atlanta's Philips Arena.

Prior to Saturday's game, the Hurricanes will honor former captain Ron Francis with a ceremony to retire his familiar No. 10. The RBC Center doors will open at 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes earlier that normal for a 7 p.m. game. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be seated prior to the start of the ceremony (approximately 7 p.m.).

With a 7-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, the Hurricanes extended their home wining streak to a franchise-best eight games (12/31-1/23) and look to extend that streak on Saturday against Atlanta. Carolina posts the best home record in the NHL at 22-4-1 and, through games of Jan. 26, ranked first overall in the Eastern Conference and the NHL with 74 points.

Overall, the Hurricanes post a 35-11-4 record, have earned points in 21 of the last 24 games (12/6-1/26: 19-3-2) and hold the largest lead of any NHL division leader. With 74 points in their first 50 games, the Hurricanes have enjoyed their best first-50 games in franchise history, eclipsing the 56-point, 50-game mark recorded by the 1986-87 squad.

Hurricanes Current Streaks

  • The Carolina Hurricanes have won each of their last eight games at the RBC Center (12/31-1/23)
  • Center Matt Cullen has points in each of the last six games (1/17-1/26: 5g, 3a) and goals in three straight (1/23-1/26: 3g, 2a)
  • Center Eric Staal has assists and points in each of the last three games (1/23-1/26: 1g, 4a)
  • Left wing Ray Whitney has points in each of the last three games (1/23-1/26: 1g, 2a)
  • Defenseman Bret Hedican has points in each of the last three games (1/23-1/26: 2g, 3a) and assists in the last two (1/25-1/26: 1g, 3a)
  • Captain Rod Brind'Amour has points in each of the last two games (1/25-1/26: 2g, 2a)
  • Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky has assists and points in each of the last two games (1/25-1/26: 0g, 2a)

Milestone Watch

  • Center Eric Staal is three points shy of 100 for his NHL career
  • Defenseman Bret Hedican is two assists shy of 200 for his NHL career
  • Left wing Cory Stillman is two goals shy of 200 for his NHL career

Television: FSN South
Hurricanes Radio Network - WWMY 102.9 FM (Raleigh - flagship), WYSR 1590 AM (High Point), WMFD 630 AM (Wilmington)

Carolina Notes
On Saturday, the Hurricanes honor the familiar No. 10 jersey of its former captain and franchise all-time leader in nearly every offensive category, Ron Francis. Francis began his career with the organization when the Hartford Whalers drafted him with the fourth overall selection in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 14, 1981 and played nearly 10 full seasons with the Whalers before being traded to Pittsburgh in March of the 1990-91 season. He played seven full seasons in Pittsburgh and helped the Penguins to two Stanley Cups (1991, 1992) before signing with the Hurricanes in July 1998.

During his 23-year NHL playing career, Francis won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy three times (1995, 1998, 2002) as the NHL's most gentlemanly player, the Frank J. Selke Memorial Trophy (1995) as the league's top defensive forward and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (2002) for his work in the community, among other high honors. He finished his career with 1,249 assists, second only to Wayne Gretzky, ranks third on the all-time games-played list having played in 1,731 games and ranks fourth all-time with 1,798 points, behind only Gretzky, Mark Messier and Gordie Howe.

CAROLINA ON THE POWER PLAY: 66-of-334 (19.2%)
CAROLINA SHORTHANDED: 222-of-274 (81.0%)

Injury Report

  • Center Matt Cullen, fractured jaw 1/26, out 2-4 weeks
  • Left wing Cory Stillman, torso injury, day-to-day, missed 5 games
  • Defenseman Mike Commodore, leg contusion, day-to-day, missed 4 games
  • Defenseman Aaron Ward, hernia, surgery 1/11, injured reserve, out 3-6 weeks, missed 8 games
  • Center Josef Vasicek, left knee, surgery 12/5, injured reserve, out 3-4 months, missed 35 games

Hurricanes Practice Schedule
Jan. 28 Saturday RBC Center 10:30 a.m.
Jan. 29 Sunday none
Jan. 30 Monday RecZone 11:00 a.m.
Jan. 31 Tuesday Bell Centre 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 1 Wednesday Denis Savard Arena 1:15 p.m.
Feb. 2 Thursday Bell Centre 11:00 a.m.
Feb. 3 Friday Continental Airlines Arena 11:30 a.m.
Feb. 4 Saturday Boston University 11:00 a.m.
Feb. 5 Sunday none
Feb. 6 Monday none
Feb. 7 Tuesday RecZone 11:00 a.m.
Feb. 8 Wednesday RecZone 11:00 a.m.
Feb. 9 Thursday St. Pete Times Forum 11:30 a.m.

*All times are local - Times and locations subject to change

Against the Thrashers
Tuesday's game marks the sixth of eight regular-season meetings in 2005-06 between the Hurricanes and the Thrashers, and the second game of a home-and-home set between the clubs. The Hurricanes took the teams' last meeting on Thursday night at Philips Arena, 5-1. Atlanta took the teams' first meeting of the season on Nov. 12 at the RBC Center, skating away with a 9-0 win and snapping Carolina's franchise-record nine-game winning streak, and seven-game home winning streak. Atlanta won against on Nov. 27, 5-2 at the RBC Center before the Hurricanes scored a 4-3 overtime win at Philips Arena on Nov. 29.

Carolina scored a 4-3 win at the RBC Center on Jan. 4. Carolina and Atlanta met six times during the 2003-04 season, with the Hurricanes taking the series 4-1-0-1 (Atlanta: 2-3-0-1). Erik Cole led the Hurricanes with six points (2g, 4a) against Atlanta in 2003-04 while Ilya Kovalchuk led the Thrashers with nine points (3g, 6a). Carolina leads the all-time regular-season series against Atlanta 21-5-4-1, and has fallen to the Thrashers just four times in 16 meetings at the RBC Center, going 11-4-1-0 on home ice and 10-1-3-1 at Philips Arena.

Hurricanes vs. Thrashers 2005-06 Schedule
Nov. 12 RBC Center L, 9-0
Nov. 27 RBC Center L, 5-2
Nov. 29 Philips Arena W, 4-3 (OT)
Jan. 4 RBC Center W, 4-3
Jan. 26 Philips Arena W, 5-1
Jan. 28 RBC Center 7:00 p.m.
April 1 Philips Arena 7:00 p.m.
April 8 Philips Arena 7:00 p.m.

Nov. 12, 2005 Atlanta 9, Hurricanes 0
The Atlanta Thrashers paid their first of four 2005-06 visits to Raleigh and scored a 9-0 win against the Hurricanes. The loss ended a franchise-best nine-game win streak for Carolina who had not lost a game in regulation since Oct. 8 prior to suffering its first shutout of the season. Ilya Kovalchuk opened up the Thrashers' offensive barrage with an even-strength goal 8:25 into the game. Scott Mellanby scored Atlanta's second goal 2:32 later, marking the end of Hurricanes goaltender Martin Gerber's night. Cam Ward replaced Gerber just past the midway point of the first period, but the Thrashers' offensive continued as the Hurricanes took a season-high 17 penalties, leading to four Atlanta power-play goals. The Thrashers' goaltending tandem of Mike Dunham and Adam Berkhoel combined to make 19 saves for a combined shutout and a win for Dunham.

Nov. 27, 2005 Atlanta 5, Hurricanes 2
The Atlanta Thrashers and Carolina Hurricanes met at the RBC Center for the second game of their eight-game season series, and Atlanta skated away with a 5-2 win. It was the first game of a home-and-home series between the clubs, and their second of three meetings in the month of November. Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals and earned two assists to lead the Thrashers and take first-star honors. Rookie netminder Michael Garnett made 27 saves on 29 Carolina shots to notch his third win of the season and receive second-star accolades. Justin Williams earned the game's third star, notching assists on each of Carolina's goals to extend his points streak to seven games (11/15-11/27: 4g, 6a). Rookie winger Andrew Ladd notched his second goal of his NHL career to get Carolina on the board in the first period and Aaron Ward scored for the first time this season when he beat Garnett with a long-range slapshot late in the second frame. Atlanta scored three times in the game's final 7:41 to seal the victory.

Nov. 29, 2005 Hurricanes 4, Atlanta 3 (OT)
The Carolina Hurricanes scored their second overtime victory of 2005-06 when former-Thrasher Frantisek Kaberle found the net behind Atlanta goaltender Michael Garnett 32 seconds into the extra frame. Center Eric Staal notched his ninth multiple-point game of the season with two goals in the second period, first tying the game 2-2 with a power-play goal and then giving Carolina a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal. Staal earned third star honors for his effort. Justin Williams extended his points streak to eight games (11/15-11/29: 5g, 6a) when he scored the Hurricanes' first goal 14:09 into the game to begin chipping away at Atlanta's early two-goal lead. Thrasher centerman Bobby Holik earned the game's second star, due in part to his game-tying power-play goal scored with 21 seconds remaining in the second frame. Cam Ward stopped 28 of 31 shots in the game to earn the win, his first since Nov. 3.

Jan. 4, 2005 Hurricanes 4, Atlanta 3
Carolina Hurricanes winger Cory Stillman factored on all four of the Hurricanes goals for his second four-point night of the season. Stillman scored the game-winner when he redirected a Matt Cullen point shot past Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen with 12:22 remaining in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. Stillman's four points extended his points streak to a career-best nine games (12/15-1/4: 5g, 12a) as he took first star honors in the game between division rivals. Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk scored two power play goals in the second period to help the Thrashers to a two-goal lead, but the Hurricanes rebounded with goals by Andrew Hutchinson and Stillman to tie the game before Stillman's game-winner. Erik Cole gave Carolina a 1-0 lead 9:08 into the game when Stillman found him breaking down the right wing. Martin Gerber earned his 19th win of the season, stopping 23 of 26 Thrashers shots. Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky recorded an assist for the second consecutive game and earned a season-high 10 penalty minutes. Winger Chad LaRose scrapped with Atlanta's Karl Stewart early in the second period and received 17 penalty mintues (2 min. instigator, 5 min. fighting, 10 min. misconduct) for the altercation.

Jan. 26, 2006 Hurricanes 5, Atlanta 1
The Carolina Hurricanes used second-period goals from Bret Hedican and Matt Cullen to take a 2-0 lead before Patrik Stefan scored Atlanta's lone goal to make it a 2-1 game heading into the third. Defeneseman Niclas Wallin used his second goal of the season to open up a third-period Carolina scoring blitz that saw wingers Craig Adams and Ray Whitney find the net behind Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen. Hedican (1g, 1a) earned first-star honors with two points, and Wallin (1g, 1a), Captain Rod Brind'Amour (0g, 2a) and right wing Justin Williams (0g, 2a) each earned two points in the game. Netminder Cam Ward Made 30 saves on 31 shots to earn his 11th win of the season and the game's second star. Defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky earned an assist on Cullen's goal, but suffered an injury late in the game when he was involved in an altercation with Thrashers right wing Marian Hossa. Cullen suffered a fractured jaw when he was struck in the face by the puck during the third period.

12 Staal
61 Stillman
11 Williams

SV %
29 Gerber
30 Ward

17 Kovalchuk
9 Savard
18 Hossa

SV %
32 Lehtonen
1 Dunham
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