It’s already been an outstanding week for Carolina Hurricanes
center Eric Staal. He’ll look to close out 2009 on a high note
Thursday night at RBC Center where the Hurricanes open a
home-and-home series with the New York Rangers.
Staal, who leads the Hurricanes (10-22-7) with 26 points, had
two goals and three assists in Monday’s 6-3 victory at Southeast
Division-leading Washington. It was Carolina’s second road win of
“It feels good,” Staal said after posting the second-highest
point total of his career. “We haven’t had a lot of those this
year. Hopefully we can follow this up and continue to play
The Hurricanes have an NHL-worst 27 points, but Staal has
provided them with a major spark since returning from a 10-game
absence Nov. 4-23 due to an upper-body injury. Staal has five goals
and 16 assists in 16 games back.
Following Wednesday’s practice, the 25-year-old from Thunder
Bay, Ontario, found out he was named to the 23-man Canadian Olympic
Team roster. It will be his first Olympic appearance after being on
the reserve squad in Torino in 2006.
“This is going to be intense,” Staal told the Hurricanes’ Web
site. “I was in Torino last time and obviously not playing, but I
was around the dressing room and it’s as competitive as ever. I’m
excited this time around to be in the mix and counted on to perform
on the ice.”
Staal, who has five goals and seven assists in 21 career games
against the Rangers, did not score in a 3-1 loss to the visiting
Rangers on Dec. 21.
The Hurricanes visit New York (18-17-4) for the first time this
season Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers play their final game of 2009 following one of their
worst performances of the year – Wednesday’s 6-0 loss to
Philadelphia at Madison Square Garden.
In its first game without the injured Vinny Prospal, New York
suffered its most lopsided loss since a 10-2 defeat at Dallas on
“There was nothing good about the game,” said Rangers center
Brandon Dubinsky, who had a goal and an assist in the Dec. 21
victory in Raleigh. “I don’t want to sit here and talk about how
the team played. I know I was awful.”
He wasn’t alone, as Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after giving up
three goals on 11 shots in the opening 20 minutes. Lundqvist, who
made 32 saves in last week’s victory over the Hurricanes, is
scheduled to start his 14th straight game Thursday. He 7-3-0 with a
1.98 goals-against average in his last 10 starts against
Cam Ward, 0-2-1 with a 3.58 goals-against average in his last
three home starts, is expected to start in net for the Hurricanes.
He made 28 saves in the Dec. 21 loss.
Rangers leading scorer Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist
in that game. He will try to avoid his first three-game scoreless
stretch since a four-game span with Minnesota from Feb. 20-27,
Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen were both named to
Finland’s Olympic team on Wednesday.
Carolina, which has been outscored 12-5 in three straight home
losses, had won eight of 10 against the Rangers at RBC Center prior
to the Dec. 21 defeat.