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Ward, Bellemore help Hurricanes defeat Flyers

by Adam Kimelman /

PHILADELPHIA -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said his defensemen have the green light to jump into the play in the offensive zone.

However, he did have to look twice when he saw Brett Bellemore driving to the Philadelphia Flyers net to score a first-period goal in a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

"Long way from home, wasn't he?" Peters said.

Bellemore, Ryan Murphy and Jordan Staal had goals as the Hurricanes (30-40-11) Staal also had an assist, and goaltender Cam Ward made 27 saves.

Sean Couturier scored for the Flyers (33-30-18) and goalie Ray Emery made 24 saves.

The Flyers' No. 1-ranked home power play went 0-for-2 with three shots on goal against the Hurricanes' No. 1-ranked road penalty kill.

Philadelphia played the third period without forward Vincent Lecavalier, who sustained an upper-body injury. Lecavalier did not play after getting into his second fight of the game with Carolina's Keegan Lowe at 9:22 of the second period. Lecavalier, who had 14 penalty minutes in 56 games entering Thursday, was assessed 22 against Carolina.

The Flyers lost their 11th straight game (0-6-5) against teams that entered play Thursday out of a position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs; their last win against a non-playoff team was Feb. 15 against the Buffalo Sabres.

"I'm mystified for sure," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "The teams are all too good and they can beat you on any given night. You've got to prepare yourself and you've got to compete and play the same way. Skate and work against Pittsburgh and do the same against Carolina.

"It boils down to wanting to do it and intensity and just got to bring it. You may not have a hatred that you have against Pittsburgh but you do have to dig down and find the intensity to play."

Bellemore found that intensity at both ends of the ice in the first period, scoring a goal and preventing one.

Midway through the period, Jordan Staal beat Philadelphia's Sean Couturier on a faceoff in the Carolina end, and Bellemore started the play going the other way. Staal carried the puck into the Philadelphia end and dropped it for Eric Staal at the blue line. Bellemore drove to the net and got position on Philadelphia defenseman Nicklas Grossmann in front of the net and tipped Eric Staal's low shot from the left point past Emery.

"The coaches have been harping all year for the [defensemen] to be joining the rush all the time, be pro-active back there," Bellemore said. "Just a great play by Eric to put it in a good area and I was able to get a stick on it."

With 3:18 remaining in the period, Bellemore was the lone player back on a 2-on-1 Philadelphia rush. Ward stopped Couturier's shot from the right side but his momentum took him far out of the net. The rebound bounced to Matt Read, but Bellemore spun and got his left leg on Read's attempt on an empty Carolina net.

"When I swung at it, I thought it was in," Read said. "I got all of it and I thought it was going in the net. Then I looked and it was in the corner."

That's what the Hurricanes expect from Bellemore, who led the Hurricanes with three blocked shots Thursday.

"That's more of a Brett Bellemore-type play," Eric Staal said. "Seems to get in the way a lot. He's good at blocking shots, good stick, competes hard. That's more his style of game. Did that well tonight."

Carolina extended its lead to 2-0 on Murphy's power-play goal at 12:51 of the third period.

Philadelphia finally found some offense in the final four minutes of the game, as they had seven shots on goal after having 21 in the first 56 minutes. Couturier's goal with 3:41 remaining, which extended his point streak to five games, got the Flyers within 2-1. They continued to pressure, with Michael Raffl getting an open look from the slot with 1:41 left and then Claude Giroux hit the post with 52 seconds remaining.

"I shot it and I couldn't even see what was going on," Giroux said. "I heard the post and it was a nice pass by [Jakub Voracek], but I don't know. I was hoping for a little better bounce there."

The Flyers won't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and pointed to one loss in particular which could have been the turning point of their season.

"Since we had that overtime loss to Boston [March 7 when they were 15 seconds from a win that would have gotten them two points from a playoff spot], it's just been the story of the remaining part of the year," Read said. "You win a couple of those games, you could be right back in the playoff hunt. We knew we had a chance. We were right there a month ago and it's frustrating that we can't find a way to win games when they're needed."

Jordan Staal closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 38.4 seconds remaining.

The Hurricanes will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season, but look to close out the season on a strong note.

"You don't want to lose out the string," Eric Staal said. "We'll look forward to a good, competitive game at home here against Detroit, and go into the offseason looking forward to being better at start of next year."


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