RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Hurricanes often say their play mirrors that of captain Eric Staal.
Now that their once-slumping All-Star center seems to be heating up, it's no coincidence that they're threatening to escape last place.
Staal had a goal and two assists to lead the Hurricanes past the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Friday night.
"As he goes, we go," forward Chad LaRose said.
LaRose scored the go-ahead goal with 11:50 left, Justin Faulk also scored and Brandon Sutter added an empty-net goal for the Hurricanes, who never trailed in winning for the fourth time in seven games.
"Everyone was engaged and involved in the game," coach Kirk Muller said. "Everyone felt good about their game, I think. I don't think we had any passengers. So there is a real good atmosphere on the bench (and) a lot of it was from the players. ... That's good to see. That's where it's got to come from."
One of the Hurricanes' most consistent performances from start to finish helped them earn points for the third time in four games, as they try to dig out of the Eastern Conference cellar. They moved two points behind Tampa Bay for fourth in the Southeast Division. FULLRECAP
After a center ice skirmish that saw Nathan Gerbe and Jussi Jokinen receive 2 minute minor penalties (holding & roughing respectively), the stage was set for some open ice, 4-on-4 hockey. It didn’t take long for the action to heat up. Winger Chad LaRose picked up a loose puck on the half-board and streaked down the right side of the ice, and after a quick glance back and a flick of his wrist, he snapped a shot past the blocker side of Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. The goal gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead with just under twelve minutes to go in the third period.
With the Hurricanes struggling, head coach Kirk Muller knew that he needed his captain to be a presence on the ice, and Eric Staal would gladly oblige. Playing 30 shifts for over 23:00, Staal collected a goal, two assists and was selected as the first star of the night as he led the Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Sabres. Carolina forward Chad LaRose said it best during his post-game interview “As he goes, we go.”
The Sabres return to the First Niagara Center tomorrow night to take on the Winnipeg Jets. It marks the 11th time this year that Buffalo plays back-to-back games. In total, Buffalo plays twenty one sets of back-to-back games. Tickets for the game are still available and can be purchased by clicking here. Don’t forget to check out the Labatt Tailgate Tent Party outside of the First Niagara Center. Special guest Stu Barnes will be in attendance and tickets are just $10. Click here to get your ticket now.