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Rookie Staal comes up big

11/9/2003

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Eric Staal listened to a tip from his teammate in the locker room, then followed the advice on the ice.

It ended up being the difference for the Carolina Hurricanes on
Saturday night.

The 19-year-old rookie scored with 2:16 left in overtime,
beating Roman Cechmanek in front of the net to lift the Hurricanes
to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Backup goaltender Jamie Storr, a nine-year veteran, told Staal
that Cechmanek liked to poke the puck away.

"He watches those sorts of things," Staal said. "I sit close
to him in the locker room and he throws out little comments like
that about goalies.

"Tonight he said Cechmanek likes to use the pokecheck a lot,
and that's what he did there. I just tried to wait him out a little
bit."

Ron Francis and Danny Markov each scored a power-play goal in
the second period for the Hurricanes. Kevin Weekes finished with 33
saves.

Ziggy Palffy scored a power-play goal with 22.2 seconds left in
regulation to send the game into the extra period. He also assisted
on Jaroslav Modry's goal in the second for the Kings, who had won
four straight on the road.

In overtime, Jeff O'Neill sent a pass from the left corner to
Staal, who was skating toward the front of the net. Instead of just
flipping the puck toward Cechmanek, Staal went right and backhanded
it past the goaltender for his third goal of the season.

Staal also assisted on Markov's goal, giving him an assist in
seven of the last eight games.

The Hurricanes were coming off a 6-3 win over the New York
Rangers, their best offensive showing of the season. They were
unable to find that rhythm Saturday, managing just nine shots
through the first two periods.

But Carolina took advantage of its opportunities, converting
both of its power-play chances and killing seven of eight power
plays. That allowed the Hurricanes to win despite being outshot
35-17.

"It was just one of those things," Modry said. "We had lots
of power-play chances, but we couldn't cash in."

The Hurricanes came into the game with the league's fifth-best
penalty-killing unit, allowing seven goals in 52 attempts.

"Our penalty-kill made the difference because it was
outstanding all night," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said.

After Modry's goal early in the second period gave the Kings a
1-0 lead, the Hurricanes responded with two power-play goals in a
span of 64 seconds. Both came on a four-minute penalty on Trent
Klatt for high-sticking Bret Hedican.

Markov struck first, taking a short pass from Staal and beating
Cechmanek from the right wing to tie it at 6:24 of the second
period.

Erik Cole then corralled Radim Vrbata's shot and slipped the
puck behind Cechmanek through the crease. Francis poked the puck
past the goaltender from the right side for a 2-1 lead at 7:28.

Palffy's power-play goal came after Hedican was whistled for
closing his hand on the puck with 58.8 seconds to play. The Kings
pulled Cechmanek, giving them a 6-on-4 opportunity.

Los Angeles spent plenty of time with the puck in Carolina's
zone during the first period. The Kings got off 11 of the first 13
shots in the game, taking a 12-4 edge after 20 minutes.

But the Kings came up empty despite getting a two-man advantage
for 1:41 minutes midway through the period after a roughing
penalty on Kevyn Adams and a slashing penalty on Cole. Los Angeles
got off six shots, but could not beat Weekes.

Game Notes: Cole left with 17:50 to play with a hyperextended right
elbow. He did not return. ... Carolina closes a four-game homestand
against Southeast Division rival Tampa Bay on Sunday. ... Los
Angeles fell to 2-1 against Southeast Division teams on its current
road trip. The Kings beat Florida and Tampa Bay this week and face
Washington on Monday. ... Palffy increased his NHL-leading assist
total to 15 on the Kings' first goal.