Kate Shefte couldn't catch tonight's Hurricanes game, so Jeff Hamlin stepped in to file this report. Kate will return when the Hurricanes next play at home, March 11 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.
RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—There was some scoreboard watching among Carolina Hurricanes fans at the RBC Center on Thursday night. Not for playoff implications, mind you, but to see how some familiar names fare in their new towns and uniforms.
Certainly, there was enough to enjoy from the home team. Tom Kostopoulous and Rod Brind'Amour opened with consecutive goals in the first period, and the Canes cruised past Ottawa 4-1 for their seventh straight win. Manny Legace turned back 26 shots to improve to 8-5-2.
Yet the franchise's past was every bit as prominent across the National Hockey League on Thursday as the present. There was Scott Walker, who was dealt to division-rival Washington on Wednesday, scoring twice in a span of 2:58 in the third period, including the game-winner, in leading the Capitals past Tampa Bay 5-4. Or Joe Korvo, also dealt to Washington Wednesday, piling up over 20 minutes of ice time in his first game with his new team.
Out in Phoenix, veteran forward Stephane Yelle was back in Colorado, where he helped the Avalanche to the 1996 Stanley Cup, their first season in Denver. It didn't help on Thursday, as the Coyotes topped the Avalanche 3-1.
Tonight, Andrew Alberts will make his debut in a Vancouver uniform at Chicago. Aaron Ward, also traded Wednesday, will skate Saturday against Phoenix.
Overall, General Manager Jim Rutherford dealt away seven players over the span of a month, many of whom were instrumental in the Hurricanes' run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Heck, even the only glimmer of offense from Ottawa against Rutherford's own team Thursday came from a player he traded three weeks ago. Matt Cullen, dealt on February 12th for Alexandre Picard and a second-round draft pick, scored on a wrap-around at 11:55 of the third period to ruin Legace's attempt to notch the ‘Canes first shutout of the season.
Cullen, who was dealt before the two-week Winter Olympic break, felt that a few weeks off after the trade served as a help more than a hindrance.
"I was expecting the trade," said Cullen, whose pregnant wife remains in Minnesota. "I was thrilled when Jim sent me to Ottawa. I was thankful. Now, I'm just trying to find my role on this team. The break helped me. It helped my family get settled in back home. And I can get used to a new system. Hopefully, it will pay off."
Curiously, despite all the player movement, the Canes continue to play their most consistent hockey of the season. They've now won seven straight games, 11 of their last 13, and remain seven points behind Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with 19 games remaining.
Defenseman Brian Pothier, dealt from Washington in the Corvo trade, was in uniform for his Carolina debut Thursday. He was credited with five blocked shots. The other player obtained in the Korvo trade, Finnish forward Oskar Osala, is expected to dress for Saturday's game at Florida.
OTHER NOTES: Zach Boychuk had two assists in Thursday's game, the first multi-point game of his career...Legace has now earned a victory over all 30 NHL teams in his career. Ottawa was the last team on the list...Forward Jussi Jokinen had his ten point scoring streak come to an end...The ‘Canes have outscored their opponents 29-12 during their seven-game winning streak.