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RALEIGH, N.C. – The Coyotes began their four-game, pre-Thanksgiving trip with a 5-2 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night at the RBC Center.
Hurricanes star Eric Staal cured himself of his early-season scoring woes by notching a hat trick before the second intermission. Staal entered the matchup having not scored a goal in eight consecutive games.
The Coyotes led 2-1 after the first period thanks to goals by rookie Kevin Porter and captain Shane Doan. Porter redirected a power-play shot by defenseman Keith Yandle past Carolina goalie Cam Ward at 8:56, and Doan fired a wrister by Ward with 2:57 left after stealing a Carolina clearing attempt off the boards.
But Ward and the Hurricanes blanked the Coyotes the rest of the way.
“I thought we played very solid hockey tonight,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “I thought, again, that we just don’t score enough when we need to score to separate ourselves, and I thought at 2-1 we had a couple of chances to go up 3-1. Even at 2-2, I thought we had a couple good opportunities to score and we didn’t score and we’re just a little bit snake bitten right now. I think our guys are playing hard (and) doing a lot of really good things, we’re just not scoring goals at a pace you need to score to win hockey games.”
Staal, who also netted Carolina’s goal in the first period, tied the score at 2 exactly eight minutes into the second period when he tipped in a slick backhanded pass from Joni Pitkanen from behind the net.
Hats soared from the fans in the crowd to the ice with 45 seconds left before the second intermission when Staal beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a backhander from the right side of the crease that gave Carolina 3-2 lead.
"He's the best player at it, and he's watching, coaching against you. It definitely adds a little bit more to the game," Staal told reporters about playing against Gretzky. "I wanted to show my stuff."
Hurricanes forward Ray Whitney added two cosmetic goals, including an empty-netter, in the third period.
The Coyotes had a power play in the latter half of the second period, but Peter Mueller was called for hooking 1:06 into the power play, negating the man advantage. Later in the period, Coyotes rookie Mikkel Boedker had a great scoring chance with just under seven minutes left, but the Danish rookie lifted his shot toward a half-empty net over the post.
Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris suffered an upper body injury in the second period, left the ice and did not return. Morris, who has not missed a game because of injury since the 2005-06 season, accompanied the team to Philadelphia, but his status for Saturday night’s game against the Flyers is unclear.
Yandle said losing Morris hurt.
“It’s huge,” Yandle said. “He’s our guy back there. He’s our leader. He’s our assistant captain. So, it’s tough any time you lose a guy, but especially when you lose a leader a great player like (Morris).”
After the game, Doan, who has 11 goals in 18 games, said the Coyotes need to play with more urgency and that the younger players on the team need to start scoring more goals.
“We need it (offense) from every single guy,” Doan said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that play a lot of minutes. We’ve got to count on them to score us some big goals. (Porter) got a big one for us tonight to get us going, and we’ve got to find a way to generate more …You’re not going to win too many games when you only score two goals a game and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
• Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik was placed on the injured reserve list, retroactive to Nov. 15, before the game. To replace him, the Coyotes recalled forward Enver Lisin from San Antonio of the American Hockey League. General Manager Don Maloney said Lisin would join the team Saturday and likely play against the Flyers. Winnik is nursing a puzzling injury to his mid-section that he suffered in practice when he was hit by a shot. Maloney said Winnik could come off the IR as early as Monday.
• Bryzgalov, playing his 11th consecutive game, made 28 saves. Backup Mikael Tellqvist is expected to start Saturday’s game.
• Forward Brian McGrattan and defenseman Ken Klee were Phoenix's scratches.
• Carolina is one of three Eastern Conference teams the Coyotes will play twice this season under the NHL's new scheduling format. The Hurricanes will play at Jobing.com Arena on Feb. 7. The Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders are the other two teams.
• Defenseman Zbynek Michalek blocked another shot in Friday’s game to bring his season total to 60. That is tops in the NHL.
• Since being scratched from the lineup for four games, Yandle has registered six assists and a +4 rating in seven games.
• Carolina is 7-3-1 when its opponent scores first.