Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 11/1/11
Raleigh, NC --- The Carolina Hurricanes would like to welcome November to their schedule. With 10 home games this month and a slate that brings four Southeast Division foes among the nine Eastern Conference teams to the RBC Center, this is a stretch that could define the Canes' playoff viability come April. And if Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning is any indication, the Hurricanes are ready to make a move. Carolina entered the contest having lost four of five while the high-powered Lightning had won four of five, not to mention the fact that Tampa was in the Canes' heads. The Hurricanes lost the season-finale at home to Tampa a year ago, missing the playoffs as a result, and then dropped a tough one on opening night here nearly a month ago. "I think coming off of last year, the first game we wanted it almost too much," said Jeff Skinner, who had two goals in the win, giving him nine points in eight career games against the division rivals. "We just came off the first five minutes in the third and they buried us (in the first game). This game, it's nice to get back. You don't want to think about the team you're playing and everything that's going on in the media and what people are saying, but to know the situation it's good to come out here and get a win." It's almost as if the calendar changing was like a fresh start for the home team. Carolina came out firing on all cylinders, yet found itself down 1-0 late in the first period. But Chad LaRose tapped in a puck that was sitting idly inside the crease and just inches from the goal line. Tampa goaltender Dwayne Roloson had turned the other way, and LaRose took advantage. It was a huge goal because it validated the hard work of that opening period. The Canes had numerous opportunities outshot Tampa 19-7 in the period but to that point had come up empty. Going into the first intermission trailing after that kind of effort against a nemesis wouldn't have been a positive by any means. "We had a really good period. Our power play had been struggling for us, and to get a power play goal at the end," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "That was a better even score after one then at the end than the Ottawa game where we had kind of a similar period 15-5 in shots and zero (goals). "We had a bad break on their first goal, we block it right to their guys. The defense is good, handled it right, and real important that we came out of that period even." Skinner scored 38 seconds into the second period to give Carolina a needed lead that lit up the building, and LaRose netted his second of the night 54 seconds after Tampa cut the margin to a goal in the fourth period. Carolina had answers all night for the Lightning, including an impressive kill of a two-man disadvantage in the second period. Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen and Brandon Sutter killed off most of it with some help from Tim Brent. It, too, gave the team and fans a huge energy boost, and was an example that the Canes brought their A game. Sutter was thinking big picture in the team's locker room. "They've had our number for a couple of games going back to last year and this year," he said. "So, it's nice to get that one at home and we have two more (home games) now and have a chance to be home for a while. It's nice." The Hurricanes now turn their attention to division-leading Washington, which will visit Friday night. Extending some carryover will be a sign of growth. "I think we played a complete game pretty much top to bottom," LaRose said. "Trying to take it one game at a time here on this home stand, but we're looking forward to Friday's game and will be ready to go."
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