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Hurricanes extend Ducks' early woes

by Brian Hunter
It's been a very difficult start to the 2008-09 season for the Anaheim Ducks, and on Sunday night the visiting Carolina Hurricanes were all too happy to add to their growing list of problems.

Rod Brind'Amour scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and backup goaltender Michael Leighton made 32 saves as the Hurricanes improved to 1-0-1 on a six-game road trip with a 3-1 win over the Ducks at Honda Center.

Eric Staal, who assisted on Ryan Bayda's goal that opened the scoring and capped the night with an empty-netter, said the Hurricanes talked about taking the play to a Ducks squad that has been penalty-plagued in the early going and appeared tentative at times in their play.

"We knew the type of game they were going to try to play," Staal said. "For us it's about speed, skill and attacking their net. I thought first period we really outskated them and ended up drawing penalties and they got frustrated. You know you're going to get your power plays that way. That's what we talked about and focused on, and tonight it was the difference."

Penalties have only been one area of concern for Anaheim. Their only goal Sunday was scored by defenseman Francois Beauchemin, his second of the season. Once again, names like Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz -- key contributors who help make up the Ducks' top two lines -- were absent from the scoresheet.

Selanne has 553 career goals, but just one in six games this season. Perry (team-high 29 goals last season), Getzlaf (team-high 82 points) and Brendan Morrison, signed from Vancouver over the summer, have registered one assist each. Kunitz, whose eight game-winning goals led the team, has yet to record a point.

"It’s unbelievable," Selanne said of the team's tough luck. "We’re not getting any bounces. The puck was on the goal line, all kinds of things are happening but it’s not going in our favor. I think it was great effort again and we deserved better than this."

Selanne had five shots on goal and a few good scoring chances against Leighton, but except for Beauchemin the puck was staying out of the Carolina net on this night.

"You've got to be lucky to be good," said Leighton, who has won both of his starts this season. "I was happy that a couple of those were sitting on the goal line. … We did a great job tying Teemu up on the goal line there and other times guys were blocking shots and clearing the puck when they had open nets, and that's how you win hockey games."

Scoring first doesn't hurt either, and the Hurricanes accomplished that when Bayda scored six minutes into the first period. Staal sent a wraparound pass through the crease and Bayda, positioned near the left post, tapped the puck past Jean-Sebastien Giguere for his second of the season.

The Hurricanes carried that 1-0 lead into the late stages of the second period before Beauchemin drew the Ducks even with 5:33 remaining. During a delayed penalty against Carolina, Beauchemin took a slap shot from the right point that eluded Leighton.

But Brind'Amour got the goal back just 4:21 later. Defenseman Niclas Wallin, who also assisted on Bayda's goal, whiffed on a shot from the point and the puck trickled toward the net and onto the stick of a wide-open Brind'Amour. He calmly swiped it around Giguere for his third of the season and a lead the Hurricanes wouldn't relinquish.

Carolina rebounded from blowing a 3-1 lead during a 4-3 overtime loss in Los Angeles on Friday. The Hurricanes' road trip continues with games against Pittsburgh, the Islanders, Montreal and St. Louis before they return home Nov. 1 for a game against Edmonton.

"You want to feel comfortable at home, obviously, records are usually a lot better at home than they are on the road, but sometimes it's nice to get away," Staal said, "kind of gel as a team and do things together, and play a grittier style of game, just keeping it simple, and for us tonight it worked and we'll take the win."

The Ducks, who are about to embark on their own four-game road swing, can only help getting away works for them.

"A change of scenery will maybe do us good," captain Scott Niedermayer said. "We’re in a tough spot right now and not happy with the way things have gone up until now. We have to think positively and work harder than we have."

Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette passed "Badger" Bob Johnson into second place on the list for career victories by an American-born coach. Laviolette has 235 wins, four behind former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella.

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.

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