RALEIGH — In a season that little has gone right, the Carolina Hurricanes were rolling for two periods and led by three goals.
Then came the third period.
But after surrendering a pair of goals in the third and killing a late penalty, the Hurricanes held on for a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks, ending a five-game losing streak before 14,990 fans at the RBC Center Saturday.
Carolina forward Erik Cole scored an empty netter with 13.8 seconds left to put the game out of reach and notch the sixth hat trick of his career.
But bad thoughts did creep in; last Friday, the Hurricanes lost to the Atlanta Thrashers after taking a three-goal lead into the final period and then the next day, they lost 5-1 to the Buffalo Sabres after leading by a goal heading into the third.
“It crept into [the minds of] 14 or 15 thousand people, whoever came today,” forward Ray Whitney said. “It wasn’t just our 20 minds. ... Ten minutes of a period is what’s cost us at times for whatever reason. Mentally and confidence-wise we have to be a little bit better, a little bit stronger in that aspect.”
Still, the Hurricanes (6-17-5) came out ready, and for two periods, played some of the best hockey the team has played this season.
Vancouver (16-13-0), which came in having won four of its last five, scored first when forward Jannik Hansen fired from the right circle. The puck bounced over goalie Manny Legace’s shoulder and into the net at 12:02.
“That goal was early,” Whitney said. “You don’t get too worried about it. Obviously we played a pretty good first five minutes, 10 minutes and to have that one is kind of an unlucky goal so as a group we were just trying to stay positive and ignore that one.”
Whitney, who was given the game’s second star, scored 20 seconds later, whacking a backhander in on a pass from Eric Staal, who had a pair of assists. Whitney also had a pair of assists.
“I just swung at it real hard,” Whitney said.
The Hurricanes scored a pair of quick goals in the second period, getting Cole’s first goal on a snap shot inside the left pipe at 3:55. Forward Sergei Samsonov put the Hurricanes up 3-1 with a wrister at 6:06.
Cole’s second goal came late in the second period. As the last Hurricane to touch the puck, he was credited after his daughter’s godfather, Vancouver defenseman Willie Mitchell, kicked the puck into the net with goalie Andrew Raycroft trying to hold it. Mitchell and Cole dined together the night before.
“I might have to get a hold of that puck and give it to my buddy Mitchell there,” Cole said. “Dinner wasn’t that expensive last night. It doesn’t really matter who’s scoring goals, we just need wins.”
But a pair of third-period goals from the Canucks brought back those bad memories, with Steve Bernier scoring at 10:07 and Alexandre Burrows scoring at 14:45.
“They became more aggressive,” Staal said. “They were coming down the walls. Their ’D’ were jumping on every rush and we had to make some hard decisions with the puck.”
Vancouver went on the power play when Samsonov was charged for hi-sticking at 17:03, drawing boos from the crowd, who questioned the call.
“It’s a good thing we killed that thing off because that would have been real tough to take, but that’s the way it’s been going,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
The Hurricanes now head out on a four-game, week-long road trip, with stops in Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Washington and Ottawa.
“I’m just glad we got a win here at home before going out,” Cole said. “This road trip is going to be a tough week for us and we’re going to have to play really well to be successful.”
The Hurricanes haven’t won on the road this season.
“It’s safe to say we’re overdue,” Cole said. ...
The Hurricanes were well on their way to playing a solid first period when Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen fired from the right circle, the puck bouncing over goalie Manny Legace's shoulder and into the net at 12:02.
But 20 seconds later, Carolina forward Ray Whitney swept a backhander in from the left circle to tie the game at 1-1, getting the puck from center Eric Staal, with defenseman Aaron Ward also getting an assist. ...
After a four-day break from games, the Carolina Hurricanes (5-17-5) host the Vancouver Canucks (16-12-0), in the only regular season meeting, at the RBC Center Saturday afternoon.
Carolina forward Jussi Jokinen, who practiced only once this week, on Friday, did not participate in the skate around. Forward Chad LaRose, who participated in practice as much as Jokinen this week, was on the ice, as was defenseman Bryan Rodney.
Rodney was called up from Albany on Thursday after Joe Corvo was injured on Monday night, suffering a cut that's expected to keep him out of commission for 2-3 months. ...
Indeed, Jokinen is the only scratch listed for the Hurricanes, who are starting a line centered by Matt Cullen, with forwards Tuomo Ruutu and Scott Walker, and defensemen Aaron Ward and Andrew Alberts. Manny Legace is in the crease.