Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Faulk tries to knock Philadelphia Flyers' Scott Hartnell off the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
RALEIGH, N.C. - After blowing a couple of recent leads, the Philadelphia Flyers were encouraged with the way they finished off Carolina for a 2-1 victory.
Philadelphia opened two-goal leads in three of its previous four games but only had one win to show for it. But after Sean Couturier scored the tiebreaking goal 3:23 into the third period Tuesday night, the Flyers didn't allow the Hurricanes many chances to rally.
"We've had a few games where we've lost the game in the third," said Harry Zolnierczyk, who assisted on Couturier's game-winner. "This was a game where we had the chance to win it in the third. It was good that we made sure we did that."
Brayden Schenn had the Flyers' other goal and Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves. Philadelphia is 18-3-3 against the Hurricanes since the start of the 2006-07 season, including 10-1-1 in Carolina.
Jerome Samson scored his first NHL goal for the Hurricanes, who were 4-0-1 in their previous five home games. Carolina has dropped four of five overall.
"No one wants to lose around here," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "No one wants to make it a habit at all. We want to compete and play hard and win hockey games. But that's a good hockey team over there. I thought everyone put in a really good effort tonight. We battled, we played, for the most part, head-to-head with them."
Cam Ward made 35 saves for the Hurricanes, and the game was close throughout despite the disparity in records.
The Flyers entered the night four points behind the New York Rangers at the top of the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes were ahead of only the New York Islanders.
Philadelphia wanted to make amends for its performance Sunday against Ottawa. The Flyers blew a two-goal lead in that game and lost 6-4, and Daniel Briere described his team's effort as "soft" afterward.
"Overall, it was a much better effort," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said.
With the score tied at 1 early in the third period, Couturier received the puck from Zolnierczyk near the Carolina blue line along the right boards. As Zolnierczyk skated to the net and drew both Hurricanes defencemen, Couturier accelerated forward and beat Ward on the blocker side with a shot that stayed just inside the left post.
"I had some time to take a look, and I saw a little hole and tried to put it there," Couturier said.
After a scoreless first period, Philadelphia opened the scoring early in the second. Ward stopped Wayne Simmonds' attempt on the rush, but Schenn was in front and cleaned up the rebound.
Carolina tied the score on the power play. Justin Faulk slapped a shot from the high slot, and the rebound came to Samson, recalled from the Hurricanes' minor league affiliate in Charlotte earlier Tuesday. Samson beat the outstretched Bobrovsky and had a wide grin on his face when he got back to the bench.
The victory was Laviolette's 100th since becoming Flyers coach.
"I didn't know that until before the game—somebody said something to me," Laviolette said. "I guess I didn't think about it much. I'm happy to be here and be a Flyer. I hope there's 500 more."
NOTES: Philadelphia's top line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr was held without a point for the third straight game. ... Carolina's Chad LaRose missed the game with an upper-body injury. ... Hurricanes D Jaroslav Spacek took a wrist shot off the face in the second period. He did not return.
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