PHILADELPHIA - The Carolina Hurricanes snapped their six-game winless skid with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, who hadn't lost a game in regulation in a month.
Justin Williams tallied three points (2g, 1a) and Jordan Staal recorded an assist in his return to game action, as the Hurricanes got back in the win column for the first time since Feb. 13.
Here are five takeaways from tonight's game in Philadelphia.
This one seemed like a daunting match-up on paper. The Hurricanes, though they netted three goals in Boston on Tuesday, hadn't scored much as of late and were winless in six straight (0-4-2). The Flyers were flying, winners of six straight and boasting a 10-0-2 record in their last 12 games.
It's huge, then, for the Hurricanes to pack two points away in a divisional game before heading back to Raleigh.
"It's March 1. They're all big, especially for us where we're sitting," Williams said. "We're realists. We need to string together some wins like we unfortunately strang together some losses."
"It was huge for us. It was such a good team effort from us," Sebastian Aho said. "I hope we can build on this."
"They've been real good here for a long time," head coach Bill Peters said. "We just stayed with it and did a good job. Now we have to do the same thing tomorrow night at home."
Peters talked this morning about the importance of not only getting on the board first but also striking early, and the Hurricanes were able to do just that. As the team's first power play was expiring, Jeff Skinner took a shot that leaked through Petr Mrazek, and Williams was there to clean up the goods for his first goal of the game, scored officially one second after the power play ended.
Video: CAR@PHI: Williams slams home loose puck for PPG
That goal helped set a tone for the Hurricanes, as they were able to settle into the way they wanted to play on the road and not have to chase the game early.
"We need to start games like that. We need to impose our will, suffocate teams and make it hard on them," Williams said. "Scoring first is something that's especially big for our team. We haven't been great chasing leads lately."
"The first goal, especially on the road, is a big one," Aho said.
"It was huge," Peters said. "It was a huge goal to give us the lead and a little bit of momentum."
Williams netted his second of the game in the back half of the second period to give the Canes a 3-0 lead. The sequence began with Jordan Staal using his brute strength to manhandle defenders below the goal line before moving the puck up to the point for a Brett Pesce bomb. Williams got a stick on the puck to redirect it past Mrazek for his first multi-goal game of the season.
Video: CAR@PHI: Williams deflects Pesce's shot past Mrazek
How much of an impact did Staal have in his return to the ice? The biggest might have been the emotional impact of having the captain back in action after what has been a trying time for him and his family; the Hurricanes wanted to win for Staal, for Heather, for Hannah, for the family.
From a hockey standpoint, Staal's nightly presence on the ice is noticeable. He's a horse, one of the hardest workers on the team who's deployed in all situations. When a piece like that is missing from the lineup, his absence is felt.
"Having the big man, No. 11, back in the lineup is a huge hole that's plugged. He takes away one great line whoever he plays against," Williams said. "He's a lift, spiritually and physically on the ice. You know he's going to make the right play and you know he's going to win the battle. As his linemate playing tonight, you know he's going to get the puck to you when it's a one-on-one battle. … He's a very important piece for us, clearly. Happy to have him back."
"He plays in all situations, takes key draws, big penalty kill there at the end," Peters said. "That's what you need. You need your best players to be your best players. We miss him when he's not here, and it's good to have him back. It's good for both us and him."
Staal finished the night with an assist, a shot, a team-high three hits, a blocked shot and a plus-1 rating in 18:07 of ice time. The big centerman was also 11-for-17 (65 percent) in the faceoff circle.
Teravainen continues to add to what is a career season for the 23-year-old Finnish forward. With still 18 games to play in the regular season, Teravainen has new career highs in goals (17), assists (33) and points (50). His 17th goal of the season gave the Canes a 2-0 lead in the second period. He laid the puck off for Aho on a cycle, and Aho dangled around a defender to center the puck on his backhand to Teravainen for the finish.
Video: CAR@PHI: Teravainen, Aho combine for nice goal
Aho helped the Hurricanes seal their win with a goal at 14:23 of the third period, that coming on the heels of a critical Canes penalty kill. It was a simple transition play, with Williams feeding Aho for the quick snap shot.
Video: CAR@PHI: Aho pads lead with wicked wrister
"I just took it from Willy and shot," Aho said. "I think I was a little lucky there."
"We were able to get the kill and then score on the bump-up shift which basically put the game away," Peters said.
Aho is also in the midst of what should be a career year for the second-year forward. He's tied with Teravainen for the team lead in points (50), which tops his point total of 49 from his rookie season. He's also already got a career high in assists (27) and, with a team-leading 23 goals, is closing in on his mark of 24 from last season.
"It means they're young and haven't played much in the league," Peters joked.
But it also means that Teravainen and Aho are taking proper steps in their development.
"You've got to continue to grow your game and do that, and they've done that," Peters said. "We've got a young group up there. Some of these young guys have high ceilings and they're not going to reach that ceiling for another four, five or six years."
The Hurricanes will now head back home to host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
"Follow it up," Williams said. "Divisional games."
"There's so much hockey left," Peters said. "We've got to get home, get charged up, get rested and play a real good New Jersey team."