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Hurricanes use scoring burst to beat Senators

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. - A few smooth moves from center Eric Staal might put the Carolina Hurricanes at ease. Maybe that's just what they needed.

Staal set up two goals during a pivotal second period -- when the Hurricanes scored three goals in a seven-minute stretch -- to help defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Sunday at PNC Arena, ending a four-game losing streak.

"It's about time," Staal said. "I've felt we've had the chances and opportunities to break through."

Right winger Patrick Dwyer, right winger Tuomo Ruutu and center Elias Lindholm scored for Carolina during the game-turning span. Staal, who added an empty-net goal, and defenseman Justin Faulk provided two assists apiece.

"We were a little crisper with our passes, and when you do that you have more time," said Staal, who has team highs of six goals and 11 assists.

It marked the first three-point outing of the season for Staal. Coach Kirk Muller said it was the captain's best game this season.

"He worked really hard and really smart," Muller said.

Center Jason Spezza scored Ottawa's only goal just 67 seconds into the game.

Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward, in his third game back from an injury, secured his first victory in more than a month. He stopped 35 shots.

Ward's most significant save might have come when he stopped Ottawa center Colin Greening's first-period attempt that would have given the Senators a two-goal edge. From there, the Hurricanes turned it on.

"Cam made that big save and then the guys kind of thought, 'Let's get going,' " Muller said.

The Hurricanes, who lost in overtime a day earlier in Boston, entered the game with the second-fewest goals scored in the league.

"It's nice that the guys are finally getting some results," Muller said. "Tonight, things were finally clicking."

Ward said the three-goal burst at the other end of the ice alleviated tension.

"It takes a lot of weight off some guys' shoulders," Ward said. "As a whole, for 60 minutes, we were very sound."

The Senators, who snapped a three-game losing streak by winning Saturday at Detroit, have given up at least four goals in each of their last nine losses. Goalie Robin Lehner made 33 saves, but he was unable to win for the second day in a row.

"A three-minute span in the second we end up making two costly errors that were self-inflicted," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "One ends up in our net, and the other ends up in a penalty, then ends up in the net."

Spezza, who has tallied 38 points in 32 career games against Carolina, produced his 10th goal of the season as the Senators jumped on top.

Carolina pulled even on Dwyer's wrister 3:10 into the second period. Ruutu gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead less than four minutes later, taking a perfect feed from Staal for a transition goal.

It was Ruutu's second goal of the season, with both coming in a four-game span.

Lindholm made it three goals in a seven-minute stretch by converting on a power play when he approached the net without resistance.

"There was a lot of space," said Lindholm, a rookie whose only other goal came Oct. 10 at Washington.

The three-goal burst were as many goals as the Hurricanes had scored in any entire game during the previous month.

"Right now, we don't play hard enough to win," MacLean said. "We don't play long enough to consistently win."

The Senators were searching for their first victory in regulation in Raleigh since Dec. 12, 2007. They have gone 11 visits since then without picking up two points.

NOTES: The Hurricanes have played on back-to-back days five times this season. They're 1-3-1 on the back end of those sets. ... Hurricanes C Jiri Tlusty played in his 300th NHL game. ... Senators D Mark Borowiecki left less than eight minutes into the game after absorbing a hit from Hurricanes RW Kevin Westgarth that resulted in a boarding penalty. He didn't return. ... Ottawa D Joe Corvo, who played last season for the Hurricanes, was a healthy scratch for the sixth consecutive game. ... Carolina RW Riley Nash was scratched for the second game in a row after playing in all except one of the first 23 games. ... The Senators complete a three-game road trip Wednesday night at Washington. ... The Hurricanes play three of their next four games on the road, starting Wednesday night at New Jersey.
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