RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)Nearly a decade passed since Jordan Staal had a hat trick. The Carolina Hurricanes captain liked the idea of ending that drought.
Staal capped his fourth career hat trick with an empty-net goal and the Hurricanes settled in defensively after an offense-filled first period to beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Sunday night.
”It was kind of the back of my mind, I guess, a little bit,” Staal said of the game’s final minutes.
Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Martinook also scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes. Svechnikov also had an assist and Nino Niederreiter assisted on two goals.
Staal, whose last three-goal game came on April 18, 2012, in a playoff game at Philadelphia while with Pittsburgh, scored the only goals after the first period – knocking in a rebound at 13:42 of the third and then notching the clincher with 1:08 left.
Frederik Andersen made 23 saves for Carolina.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour moved into a tie with his former coach, Peter Laviolette, for the second-most regular-season wins in franchise history with a 167-84-28 record.
Staal’s most recent hat trick in the regular season came in November 2008. He became the first Carolina player with a hat trick this season.
”It was a good effort,” Staal said. ”Obviously, my linemates were a big part of that. It was a fun night.”
Staal centers a line with Niederreiter and Jesper Fast.
”That line has been good for a long time,” Brind’Amour said. ”He has been good. I don’t know if anything was different. He got a couple goals tonight, big ones.”
Josh Mahura and Troy Terry scored for the Ducks, who still have back-to-back victories just once since the end of January. John Gibson stopped 38 shots, but has failed to win in his last 12 starts.
The offenses flowed early for both teams.
Svechnikov reached out to get a stick on Brady Skjei’s delivery, redirecting the puck past Gibson just 77 seconds into the game.
Niederreiter connected with Staal by sending a pass from behind the net through the legs of Anaheim defenseman Shattenkirk. Staal did the rest for his 11th goal of the season to make it 2-0.
”When you spot them two goals, it’s tough,” Terry said. ”That’s a team we can look at and try to emulate.”
Mahura, who was a healthy scratch in Anaheim’s 5-3 win a day earlier at Philadelphia, scored his second goal of the season just 65 seconds later.
After Carolina killed an Anaheim power play, the Hurricanes turned a Ducks turnover into Martinook’s goal at 9:30 of the first period.
With congestion in the crease, Terry scored the game’s fifth goal less than 12 minutes into the game on a diving sweep of the puck past Andersen to make it 3-2.
”When we did get rolling, we did have chances to score – not as many chances as they did,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said.
It was the fourth time this season the Hurricanes had at least three goals in the first period.
STAAL OF FAME
Regardless of his team, this was Staal’s first hat trick on home ice.
It was Staal’s first hat trick with the Hurricanes, who he joined in the 2012 offseason.
He has 11 goals in the last 29 games, including multi-goal efforts in two of the last three. This comes after he managed just two goals in his first 42 outings.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who played for the first time since Tuesday’s announcement that he’s retiring at season’s end, mixed it up several times. Most notable was a second-period skirmish when he was angered by Svechnikov and took a roughing penalty.
”He’s not going gently into the night,” Eakins said. ”He’s going to go out swinging.”
The Ducks have drastically different results against Eastern Conference teams based on divisions, with three such games remaining.
Anaheim dropped to 5-7-3 against Metropolitan Division opponents after the Hurricanes secured the two-game season sweep. However, the Ducks are 9-2-3 vs. Atlantic Division foes.
Ducks: At Florida on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: At New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports