Walker tallies twice as Hurricanes cruise past PenguinsOct 15, 2006 - 2:31 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes clearly have put their poor start behind them.
Scott Walker tallied twice as the Hurricanes rolled to an easy 5-1 triumph over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It was the second victory in as many nights for Carolina, which opened the campaign with four consecutive losses.
The Hurricanes posted a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday thanks to Ray Whitney's last-second goal and carried that momentum into this contest, jumping to an early three-goal lead and cruising thereafter.
"We've got a good team and a lot of character guys, so I don't think there was ever any panic in here," Walker said. "Guys just came to work and tried to work through everything and tried to get on a roll. I don't know if everything is straightened out, but it was a nice character win."
"I thought that the guys played hard, starting from our end, working out," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "They skated, competed and stayed fairly disciplined. It was a good road win."
Eric Staal gave Carolina the lead for good just 2:24 into the game with his third goal of the season. The superstar center gathered a loose puck in the high slot, turned and fired a wrister that beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
"It was a turnover and it bounced back from their guy," Staal said. "It was just there, and I spun and it was kind of a screen. I don't think Fleury saw it very well and it went underneath him."
The contest also marked the first time that Staal squared off against younger brother Jordan, the second overall draft selection last summer.
"I hope he plays well," Eric Staal said of his 18-year-old brother. "He didn't look out of place out there. He's a big, strong kid and he's going to play in this league for a long time."
Walker pushed the lead to 2-0 at 9:34 of the opening period with his first goal of the contest, a bad-angle slap shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle that snuck between Fleury's left skate and the right goalpost.
"We talk about shooting the puck and getting it to the net," Walker said. "I think all the goals tonight were just quick shots like that one."
Walker also tallied seven minutes into the middle session to extend Carolina's lead to 3-0. Defenseman Mike Commodore collected a goal and an assist and Whitney added a pair of assists for the Hurricanes, who provided plenty of support for netminder Cam Ward.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Ward stopped 25 shots to improve to 3-1-0 lifetime against the Penguins.
"I feel really good," Ward said. "I was smooth and fluid, but that's a reflection of the team. We've started to bear down defensively and limited the chances, and we're starting to play a better team game all around."
Fleury allowed three goals on 20 shots before being replaced midway through the second period by Jocelyn Thibault, who turned aside 12 of the 14 shots he faced. Rookie blue-liner Kristopher Letang scored the lone goal for Pittsburgh, which went just 1-for-9 on the power play.
"We made some mistakes that are sometimes part of inexperience, but that's OK," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It's OK as long as you learn from your mistakes. Hopefully tonight, we did have a good lesson about what it takes to win and what it takes to compete."
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