Eric Staal recorded his 13th career hat trick and Jeff Skinner scored twice to propel the Hurricanes past Buffalo, 6-3. Here's a closer look at Thursday's game.
1. Jiri Tlusty rightfully regained his spot on Carolina's top line, and it seemed to make a huge difference. Grouped with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, Tlusty didn't come away with any points but seemed to be the glue needed to get the captain going. His versatility — he can finish or set up a goal, play down low or on the perimeter — makes him a perfect fit for the rangy Staal and ultra-skilled Semin.
2. It was a bounce-back night for Joni Pitkanen and Cam Ward. Both were roundly criticized for their efforts thus far this season, but seemed to regain form against Buffalo. Pitkanen was a team-best plus-4, registered two assists, and arguably made the biggest play of the night. With Buffalo pulling within one goal, 4-3, in the third, Pitkanen perfectly timed an offensive zone pinch and pilfered the puck from Jason Pominville. He then cruised below the faceoff dot and found Eric Staal with a cross-ice pass that the captain fired past Jhonas Enroth. As for Ward, he made timely stops and made just one mistake — allowing a rebound on a Jordan Leopold shot that Cody Hodgson deposited for Buffalo's first goal.