The Carolina Hurricanes broke a seven-game winless streak and gave coach Kirk Muller his first NHL victory by earning a 5-3 decision over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday.
With five different scorers (Jeff Skinner, Jamie McBain, Pat Dwyer, Chad LaRose, Tuomo Ruutu) contributing amongst a group of eleven players earning points in a well-contested game by both teams, the Hurricanes finally removed an enormous burden off their shoulders and gave Coach Kirk the win and the game puck.
Goaltender Cam Ward backstopped his team with a solid performance turning away 22 shots while his teammates peppered Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk with 33 shots that also translated into two power play goals on the night.
When asked about the last time he received a game puck, Muller chuckled and smiled heartily.
“It was great,” Muller said. “The guys played great tonight – it’s all about them and it was fun to see them get rewarded.”
Muller’s energy during his post-game interview session truly illustrated the exuberance and sense of energy that he has brought to the team as well as his patience in guiding his players through their recent struggles to earn a win since his arrival.
“It feels like it’s been a long time for us and especially we wanted to get one for Kirk,” captain Eric Staal stated.
Staal tallied an assist on the night and increased his offensive output to eight points over the past six games while continuing to reestablish his grip on the reigns in leading the team on the score sheet.
“We gotta’ remember how this feels and how hard it took to get the job done and take it into Winnipeg.”
When asked if he expected a win to come soon, Staal firmly stated that it was due and was deserving.
“It was a matter of time,” Staal continued while the raucous noise generated by a relieved group of men echoed around him in the dressing room.
“It also takes a little bit of an adjustment to learn a new system, playing a different style of game. I think guys are starting to adjust and getting better every day and it was a good win to get here.”
Goaltender Cam Ward made the most poignant comment after the win over Edmonton:
“It was nice to be able to smile after a hockey game,” Ward said.
“It’s just been awhile since we won a hockey game and certainly we wanted to do it for Kirk – he’s been great ever since that he’s been here, and very well deserving of the win because the guys rebounded from last night and played a really good hockey game.”
Ward acknowledged that the team’s hard work under Muller’s guidance has been paying off and he and the team look forward to repeating the feat heading into their next two road games.
With a 1-1 record now etched into the travel book on their Canadian tour, the Hurricanes head to Winnipeg for a Friday-night tilt with the Jets, and will end their journey the following Tuesday when they face off against the Leafs in Toronto.
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