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Dvorak helps Hurricanes edge Flyers

by Kurt Dusterberg /

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The player who signs a contract two days before the start of the season isn't the one you expect to provide the key goals. But, so far, that's been Radek Dvorak's role.

Dvorak attended the Carolina Hurricanes' training camp on a professional tryout, but that's been no reflection of his skills after 1,202 NHL games. When he scored midway through the second period Sunday night -- his second in two games with Carolina -- he gave the Hurricanes the cushion they needed to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 win at PNC Arena.

It was Carolina's first win of the season.

"I took the tryout as a challenge," Dvorak said. "When I got the phone call, I was excited. I know what my game is and I try to do that every practice, every game. But, we're only two games in. We have to keep working hard on the details."

After Friday's 3-2 overtime loss on opening night, one glaring detail stood out. The Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead in the third period before losing in overtime. This time, the Hurricanes held tight for 30 minutes.

"We learned from that game," Dvorak said. "We were scored on with (14) seconds left against Detroit. It hurts. On the other hand, the game was over. If it happened in the next game, we had to be better. We did that. It was nice to hold on for the win."

The Hurricanes carried the play for large stretches, setting the tone in the first period by outshooting the Flyers 17-5. Jay Harrison's snap shot trickled through the pads of Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead 8:11 into the game.

Luke Schenn evened the score at 1-1 at 3:01 of the second period. After Kris Newbury won a faceoff, Schenn charged through the circle, beating Hurricanes forward Drayson Bowman and lifting a shot past goaltender Anton Khudobin, who made 17 saves to win his Carolina debut.

"Sometimes it's easier to have a lot of shots, but at the same time I pretty much didn't have to do anything," Khudobin said. "The defense did a great job in front of me and the forwards helped them too. Pretty much it was easy for me."

Dvorak put the Hurricanes back on top five minutes later. When Schenn's pass from behind the net deflected off Jeff Skinner, Dvorak was alone in the slot. He used Riley Nash as a screen to beat Mason over the glove.

Nothing is coming easily for Philadelphia right now. The Flyers have been outscored 9-3 on their way to an 0-3 start, the second year in a row they have started with three losses.

"Offensively, if you're not scoring, then everything has to be perfect on the defensive side of things," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Especially early in the game, I thought we were a little sloppy with our play and puck movement."

Although the Flyers didn't have an abundance of shots, they did at least get the puck to the front of the net on occassion.

"We're in there, we're looking, but we're not coming up with anything," Laviolette said.

The Hurricanes aren't scoring in bunches either, but there are early signs that they have good balance among the forward lines. Skinner, who has played with Dvorak and Nash so far, assisted on both goals Sunday night. He had five shots and was a concern for the Flyers all over the ice.

"He was more tenacious on the puck and he created more," Kirk Muller said. "And he worked hard without the puck. That's the type of game we want from him."

Skinner, who did not thrive last season paired with Jordan Staal, already sees the value in playing with the 36-year-old Dvorak.

"He's smart," Skinner said. "He's pretty easy to read off of because you're never going to find him out of position. He's so consistent that way."

For Muller, who played with Dvorak in Florida from 1996-99, there wasn't much concern in bringing in the reliable veteran.

"Over time, he's matured as a hockey player," Muller said. "His longevity as a hockey player has had a lot do with the fact that he's adapted and became a two-way forward. That's what we grabbed him for. We've got some young players and he brings some stability and calmness to that line."

While Dvorak is regarded as a two-way contributor with penalty-killing skills, he's got 225 NHL goals under his belt. Dating back to his nine-game stint with Anaheim last season, he has six goals in his past 11 games.

"It's nice, but I don't know what to say on that," Dvorak said with a smile. "All my life, my game was skating and shooting the puck, so I'm trying to keep doing that."

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