RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—Eric Staal had some shots during his longest slump of the season. He just couldn’t score any goals.
All it took to end the Carolina star’s drought were a couple of fortunate bounces and an empty net.
Two goals came off deflections, he said, and an empty-netter with 45.6 seconds left finished off his third career hat trick and first since Jan. 15 at Florida.
“It’s been like that for a lot of hockey players—you get a lot of chances, you make a great shot and it doesn’t go your way,” Staal said. “Then you take another couple of looks, and it’ll just find the net for you. It did that for me tonight.”
Williams added two assists, and Rod Brind’Amour set up a goal to extend his point streak to eight games.
Ray Whitney also had a goal for the Hurricanes, who squandered a two-goal lead but scored the winning goal in the final minutes for the second straight home game.
“We just can’t give them that many opportunities, and we had some players really push to get the game back to even for us,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “Then we made a couple of key mistakes and ended up giving up the winning goal.”
Dallas’ Sergei Zubov tracked down a loose puck behind the goal line and tried to send it down the ice, but Williams intercepted the puck in the right circle and beat screened goalie Marty Turco with a high wrist shot to break the tie.
“It was disappointing to be 3-3 at that point,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “A game can be summed up in scoring chances, I think. When you dominate the scoring chances, that means you probably dominated the game.”
Jaroslav Modry scored with 1 second remaining for Dallas.
Cam Ward, back in Carolina’s net after a rare night off, stopped 21 shots. Turco made 20 saves for the Stars.
“They’re a great skating team. We’ve got to skate with them, play hard and play smart every shift,” Turco said. “We certainly didn’t do that for the first couple periods.”
Staal had gone a season-worst four games without a goal before he scored twice in an 11-minute span overlapping the first two periods.
“What I saw the last couple of games was (Staal) working hard, and when you work hard, good things happen, regardless of the player” Laviolette said. “When guys are working hard and doing the right thing, I hate to see players get frustrated. You want to send them back in the direction to enjoy it, because they’re playing the game the right way.”
Dallas entered with the second-best penalty-killing unit in the NHL, allowing only 10 power-play goals in 112 chances.
But Staal scored twice with the man advantage—once on a first-period slap shot from just inside the blue line which grazed a Stars defender, and again when Williams’ shot from behind the right circle glanced off his shin to make it 3-1.
“We spread it out well. We took shots when we had them, and the puck will find its way to the net if you continue to shoot pucks at the net,” Staal said. “We did that, we got a couple of good looks and we were fortunate enough to capitalize.”
Staal’s first two goals came on either side of one by Whitney late in the first period, which was set up by a heady defensive play by Tim Gleason.
Gleason took the puck from Stu Barnes in the Carolina zone. Whitney gathered it, skated down the right side, deked right, then skated across mouth of the goal and tapped a backhanded shot behind a diving Turco to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
Stefan got past Bret Hedican, took a pass from Mike Modano and beat Ward with a short-handed wrist shot to pull the Stars to 3-2. Moments later, Halpern tipped a shot past Ward to tie it with 11:49 remaining.
“They’re capable of scoring goals,” Laviolette said. “We didn’t think it was going to be easy.”
Jokinen netted the first goal just 5:45 in. He burst through the defense, took a pass from Stephane Robidas and beat Ward stickside for his fourth goal.
Dallas has lost four of six after opening the season with 11 wins in 13 games.
Brind’Amour is the only player to record a point in each of Carolina’s 12 wins. … The Stars lost for the first time in nine games when scoring first. … Carolina improved to 10-0 when leading after the first period. … The Hurricanes played on consecutive nights for the sixth time and improved to 2-4 in the second games of those stretches. … Carolina snapped a four-game losing streak to Dallas. The Hurricanes’ last win in the series was Dec. 22, 2002. … This was the only meeting between the teams this season. … Gleason returned after missing nine games with a shoulder injury.