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Hurricanes hold off Blue Jackets behind Brind'Amour, Gerber

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Carolina Hurricanes made winning at
home look downright easy at the beginning of the season. Perhaps a
few lessons learned on their longest road trip can help them regain
that superiority.

Rod Brind'Amour scored twice and Martin Gerber made 25 saves to
help Carolina hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday
night, giving the Hurricanes consecutive home victories for the
first time since early November.

Following a 7-0 start at the RBC Center, Carolina lost four of
the next six before heading out for six games on the road against
mostly Western Conference opponents.

"It was kind of the example we saw out on the West Coast,"
defenseman Aaron Ward said. "They really take advantage of being
at home. That's how we have to approach it here."

Cory Stillman originally was credited with giving Carolina a 1-0
lead in the second period before it was changed, allowing
Brind'Amour to get his first multi-goal game in two months. He
scored his second with a brilliant effort after digging the puck
out of the corner from his knees, then getting to his feet to take
a pass from Ward behind the net.

His wraparound beat Pascal Leclaire to secure the win for the
Hurricanes. They beat Chicago 5-3 on Tuesday night and added this
one for their first home winning streak since beating the Florida
Panthers on Nov. 5 to complete the perfect start.

Carolina has three more games left on its longest homestand.

"We've got to win them all," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We
have got a chance to really take advantage of the schedule here."

Mike Rupp scored his first goal of the season for the Blue
Jackets to cut the deficit in half early in the final period, but
the Hurricanes held on behind Gerber, who has solidified his spot
at the top of the depth chart with five consecutive solid starts.

He pulled a muscle in his hip in the opener and split time early
on with rookie Cam Ward, but Carolina sent Ward to Lowell of the
AHL for what was termed a conditioning stint. Gerber has
essentially kept him off the ice.

"I don't think it's that big of a deal," Gerber said of his
status as the No. 1 goalie. "Of course, I want to be the guy in
the net, but at the end of the day, you have to win hockey games."

Brind'Amour's first goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage when Cale
Hulse (roughing) and Dan Fritsche (tripping) were called for
penalties seconds apart deep in their own end. Stillman took a pass
from Whitney and sent a one-timer toward the net, and Brind'Amour
deflected it past Leclaire.

"I felt it hit the stick, but I'm not sure it changed the
direction of the puck," Brind'Amour said. "But you've got to
score on 5-on-3s."

Columbus didn't when the Hurricanes were down two players near
the end of the first period after Erik Cole and Whitney went to the
penalty box. The Blue Jackets couldn't solve Gerber and the
Carolina defense, with Brind'Amour, Ward and Glen Wesley leading
the charge.

"They're playing as a team, that's why they're winning, that's
why they're leading their division," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant
said. "They deserved the win, with a good goalie and good
defense."

It was the third loss in four games for the Blue Jackets.

"We didn't play a bad game, but they played well," Leclaire
said. "In the end, we lost."

Game notes
Before the game, the Blue Jackets sent G Martin Prusek to
Syracuse of the AHL. He was 3-3 with a 3.22 goals-against average
in nine games with Columbus. ... Carolina C Eric Staal was held
without a point for the second straight game, the first time that's
happened this season.