Carolina coach Kirk Muller was more than happy to express his elation after finally earning his first win as an NHL coach.
Jeff Skinner, Jamie McBain, Patrick Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu scored for the Hurricanes (9-17-4), who won their first game in five tries under Muller, a first-time NHL coach.
”It was great,” he said. ”I’m not afraid to show some emotion. We’ve had some tough nights so far in my coaching career. When you have a fun night like this you have to enjoy it. The guys played great tonight, and it was fun to see them get rewarded.”
Tomas Kaberle added two assists for Carolina, which was 0-6-1 in its previous seven games and 0-5 since Muller took over for the fired Paul Maurice on Nov. 28.
”It’s nice to be able to smile after a game,” Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward said. ”It’s been a while since we won a hockey game. We wanted to do this for Kirk. He’s been great since he got here. We rebounded from a tough loss (Tuesday) night and played a really good hockey game.
”The bounces haven’t been going our way, but all you can do is stick with it. It was nice to have a night where our hard work paid off.”
Eric Belanger, Ben Eager and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers (13-12-3), who’ve lost two straight and five of six.
”It was a strange game,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. ”I don’t think anyone could say we executed our game plan and played the way we wanted.”
The Oilers certainly didn’t play anywhere near as well as coach Tom Renney expected.
”We didn’t have enough passion to play,” he said. ”We didn’t have an emotional connection to the game. I’m pretty disappointed. This one hurt. The players are really disappointed in themselves. We all are.
”Your leaders really need to step up and seize a game like that by the throat, and I thought we struggled with that.”
Carolina appeared to score eight minutes in when LaRose stole the puck from Ryan Smyth behind the Edmonton net and made a wraparound shot, but after a video review it was determined the rebound was kicked in.
Edmonton had a goal reviewed three minutes later, but this one counted. Magnus Paajarvi banked a shot off Tim Brent onto the Carolina net, and Ward trapped the puck under his stick. In the ensuing scrum, Belanger hit the stick with his skate and the puck skittered across the line. Belanger was credited with his first goal of the season after the original announcement that it was Paajarvi’s first.
Carolina finally buried one of its many first-period chances with 40 seconds remaining as a bad bounce off the glass landed in front of the Oilers net. Skinner beat Dubnyk through his pads for a power-play goal.
The Hurricanes took a 2-1 lead five minutes into the second when McBain beat a stickless Dubnyk up high with a shot with another Oilers penalty on the way.
Carolina went up by two goals with eight minutes left in the second as Eric Staal fed the puck ahead to Dwyer, who deked Dubnyk and slid a shot between his pads.
The lead grew to 4-1 three minutes later as LaRose took a pass on a 2-on-1 break and scored with a shot through Dubnyk’s legs for a short-handed goal.
Edmonton got a goal back nine seconds later as Eager scooped up a loose puck and swung a shot behind Ward for his first of the season.
The Hurricanes kept on coming to start the third and scored four minutes in. Jussi Jokinen found Ruutu in front for a shot through traffic that made it 5-2.
Skinner had a chance to get his second of the game after he was awarded a penalty shot seven minutes into the third when he was chopped by Theo Peckham while on a breakaway, but couldn’t beat Dubnyk.
Edmonton got within 5-3 with just over six minutes to play when Nugent-Hopkins recorded his 13th goal and 30th point of his already impressive rookie season.
NOTES: This was the only meeting between the teams this season. The Hurricanes beat the Oilers 7-1 at home last year. … Oilers forwards Ben Eager and Anton Lander returned to the lineup. Eager (back) had missed six games and Lander (infected hand) sat out three. … Oilers F Taylor Hall (shoulder) is progressing well, but hasn’t been cleared for contact. … The Hurricanes were without G Brian Boucher (lower body), D Jay Harrison (upper body) and D Joni Pitkanen (upper body).