Babchuk's goal lifts Hurricanes to fifth straight win - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Babchuk's goal lifts Hurricanes to fifth straight win

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RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) -- Anton Babchuk already had one of

his noted hard slap shots stopped by Brian Elliott. The Carolina

defenseman wasn't about to let the Ottawa rookie goalie get his

pads on another one.

Babchuk scored a power-play goal with 6:01 remaining and the

Hurricanes won their season-high fifth straight game, beating

the Senators 2-1 on Wednesday night in a matchup of two of the

NHL's hottest teams.

"I had a couple good shots before that, but this (last) one went

through him," Babchuk said. "Just shoot it as hard as I can, try

to hit the net. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes not."

Rod Brind'Amour tied it for Carolina at 3:15 of the third and

assisted on Babchuk's winner to help the Hurricanes match a club

record with their ninth straight victory at home, a mark set

during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2005-06. The Hurricanes

also moved a point behind fourth-place Philadelphia in the

Eastern Conference playoff chase.

"We haven't done anything yet," Brind'Amour said. "I'm proud

that we're playing in every game, and even though we've got some

big wins, we seem to be able to let that go, come back and know

we've got to win that next one. ... Even though we're in a

situation where it looks good, 'Oh, you're in fourth or fifth or

wherever you are,' if other teams win those games, we're really

just barely hanging on."

Ryan Shannon scored for the Senators, who were denied their

season-high sixth straight win. They had won nine of 10 to move

within nine points of the East's eighth playoff spot, but fell

to 12-19-4 on the road.

"In spurts, they pressured us, but I thought there were a few

times we were able to maintain some pressure," Senators coach

Cory Clouston said. "The power play goal at the end was the

difference."

Babchuk's winner came 1:29 into Carolina's third power play of

the night. He took a feed from Joni Pitkanen near the back of

the right circle and unloaded a blast that beat Elliott for his

13th goal and fourth in five games. The hard-shooting defenseman

has scored two of his three game-winning goals in his last five

games.

"He's got an unbelievable shot. He's got to use it," teammate

Tuomo Ruutu said. "When he uses it, it's a lot of damage. It's

so hard, and it's been accurate lately as well."

Elliott, who took a bid for his first shutout into the third,

stopped 28 shots for the Senators before he was pulled with

about one minute left for an extra attacker. Cam Ward, who made

his 23rd straight start, finished with 21 saves for Carolina.

Shannon finally beat Ward and broke a scoreless tie just over a

minute into the third. Nick Foligno scooped up the puck behind

the net and tried to wrap it around and past Ward, but it

slipped past Babchuk and to Shannon, who tapped it in from

point-blank range for his sixth goal.

"I kind of lost it a little bit. ... A bad bounce," Babchuk

said. "But we stuck with our plan, continued to push and scored

two goals."

Brind'Amour started Carolina's comeback about two minutes later

in a 4-on-4 situation, snapping the rebound of Ray Whitney's

shot from the high slot past Elliott. Of his 14 goals, six have

come in the last 10 games - by far the best stretch of the

season for the Hurricanes' 38-year-old captain.

That quick start to the third was in stark contrast to the way

this one was played during the first two periods - when there

were few shots, fewer penalties and only an occasional quality

scoring chance.

"We just didn't seem real sharp tonight," Clouston said.

"Neither team was dominant. It was kind of like a chess match."

The teams combined for three penalties through 40 minutes, and

Carolina thought it claimed a 1-0 lead roughly five minutes in

when the rebound of Babchuk's blast clicked off Jussi Jokinen's

skate and past Elliott. But a review showed that he instead

kicked the puck.

The Hurricanes' next-best scoring opportunity didn't come the

opening seconds of the third, when Eric Staal rang the post with

a wrist shot about 45 seconds before Shannon's goal.

"Before, when we were down 1-0 or it was a (scoreless) game

going into the third, we'd start forcing things. We'd try to

make plays that are not there," Ruutu said. "They're going to

get turnovers from those, and we stayed within the system. We

expected we'd get a couple of scoring chances - usually, we do -

and we were lucky enough to score from those."

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