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Walker leads as Hurricanes open some space in Southeast

Feb 22, 2008 - 4:52 AM
By Joe Johnson PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The Carolina Hurricanes are beginning to pull away from the competition in the Southeast Division.

Scott Walker scored a goal and added two assists as the Hurricanes posted a 5-3 triumph over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday to create some breathing room in the Southeast.

Ray Whitney, Ryan Bayda, Sergei Samsonov and Keith Aucoin also tallied and Cam Ward made 25 saves for Carolina, which won for the fifth time in six home games.

"We knew the importance of it, obviously," Whitney said. "We had a little spark to us."

The victory pushed Carolina (31-28-5) four points ahead of the idle Washington Capitals (28-26-7) in the tightly grouped division. Atlanta (29-29-4) fell five points back with the loss.

"We never stopped," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought in the third period, we came out and continued to fight for it. The last thing I wanted to do was try and sit on 20 minutes with a one-goal lead, and I don't think we did that at all."

Eric Perrin and former Hurricane Mark Recchi scored for the Thrashers, whose last two divisional losses have come against the Hurricanes.

Atlanta coach Don Waddell believed his team came out of the gate flat.

"It's not the start we were looking for," he said. "It's pretty disappointing to come out with that kind of start. (Goaltender Kari Lehtonen) did a tremendous job to keep us in the game in the first."

Carolina, which failed to score in the opening period, still fired 21 shots at Lehtonen in the session.

"Anytime you come after any period and you have (21) shots, you know you're doing things right," Walker said. "I thought the guys had a solid effort. Everyone played well."

Recchi believed Atlanta averted disaster in the first 20 minutes.

"It's 5-0 if (Lehtonen) is not on top of his game," Recchi said. "We haven't rewarded him with enough good efforts."

Lehtonen was more blunt.

"I think it was big joke the whole first period," the Finn said. "I do not know why we were not ready."

Whitney finally broke through for Carolina when he took advantage of a miscue by Lehtonen, who got trapped behind his net while attempting to play the puck. All-Star Eric Staal flipped a pass to Whitney, who deposited it into the vacant net at 2:08 of the second period.

"I just tried to backhand it to our D and I just missed it or didn't get enough on it," Lehtonen said. "I think it was Staal who was able to get it to the guy in front of the net. That's the bad thing about goaltending - when you make a mistake, there's not another goalie to save your (butt)."

But the lead was short-lived as Perrin responded less than two minutes later. From near the right goalpost, he buried the rebound of All-Star Marian Hossa's shot at 3:48 for his 11th goal of the season.

Bayda restored Carolina's lead just 71 seconds later, tipping defenseman Tim Gleason's slap shot past Lehtonen. Samsonov pushed the advantage to 3-1 at 12:25, when he stuck his right skate into the crease and redirected blue-liner Frantisek Kaberle's shot into the net.

The play was reviewed but ultimately ruled a goal.

Recchi made it a one-goal game during a power play with 3:18 remaining in the period.

All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk blasted a slap shot that just missed the right side of the net. The puck bounced off the end boards and back to Recchi, who from the top of the crease buried it for his 11th tally.

But Walker scored at 3:51 of the third and Aucoin added his fourth goal less than five minutes later to put Carolina ahead, 5-2.

"I think we had great opportunities right off the bat," Gleason said. "They didn't go in for us, but we continued to battle and get pucks to the net, and they finally went in for us. We just threw it to the net and good things happened for us."

Todd White capped the scoring and Lehtonen made 41 saves for the Thrashers, who have dropped two straight.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 2 1 3
    CAROLINA 0 3 2 5 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: CAR - RAY WHITNEY 25 (ERIC STAAL) 2:08
    ATL - ERIC PERRIN 11 (MARIAN HOSSA, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV) 3:48
    CAR - RYAN BAYDA 2 (TIM GLEASON, SCOTT WALKER) 4:59
    CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 7 (FRANTISEK KABERLE, TREVOR L

    Feb 21 9:30 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 3
    CAROLINA 5
    3RD PRD: ATL - TODD WHITE 14 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, MARK RECCHI) 18:37

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 9:29 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    CAROLINA 5
    3RD PRD: CAR - KEITH AUCOIN 4 (SCOTT WALKER, RYAN BAYDA) 8:35

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 9:09 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    CAROLINA 4
    3RD PRD: CAR - SCOTT WALKER 7 (GLEN WESLEY) 3:51

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:59 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 2 2
    CAROLINA 0 3 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: CAR - RAY WHITNEY 25 (ERIC STAAL) 2:08
    ATL - ERIC PERRIN 11 (MARIAN HOSSA, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV) 3:48
    CAR - RYAN BAYDA 2 (TIM GLEASON, SCOTT WALKER) 4:59
    CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 7 (FRANTISEK KABE

    Feb 21 8:36 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    CAROLINA 3
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) MARK RECCHI 11 (ILYA KOVALCHUK, MARIAN HOSSA)
    16:42

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:35 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    CAROLINA 3
    2ND PRD: CAR - SERGEI SAMSONOV 7 (FRANTISEK KABERLE, TREVOR LETOWSKI)
    12:25

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:23 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    CAROLINA 2
    2ND PRD: CAR - RYAN BAYDA 2 (TIM GLEASON, SCOTT WALKER) 4:59

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:07 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    CAROLINA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - ERIC PERRIN 11 (MARIAN HOSSA, VYACHESLAV KOZLOV) 3:48

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:07 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 0
    CAROLINA 1
    2ND PRD: CAR - RAY WHITNEY 25 (ERIC STAAL) 2:08

    Thrashers vs. HurricanesFeb 21 8:01 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 0
    CAROLINA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 5 5
    CAR 22 22
    GOALIES: ATL - KARI LEHTONEN
    CAR - CAM WARD

    Feb 21 7:40 PM