Hurricanes Blow Past Canucks

Members of a health club, in Ardmore Pa., watch the State of the Union address by President Bush while exercising.
AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek

Keith Primeau promised himself there would be no off nights after he was named captain of the Carolina Hurricanes last month. He's true to his word.

Primeau scored for the third time in four games and Arturs Irbe beat his former team as the Carolina Hurricanes downed the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 Tuesday night, running their home unbeaten streak to four straight.

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"One thing that my dad told me at any level is to try and remain consistent, you never know who is watching and paying attention," said Primeau, who has six points after five games.

"I just think there is that added motivation with the `C' because more eyes are focused on what you're doing and how you're performing," he added. "I want to make sure I set a good example."

In addition to his two-point night, Primeau and his linemates helped hold Mark Messier, who was seeking his 600th career goal, without a shot.

"It doesn't matter what age Mark Messier is, he is as good a hockey player as there is in the NHL, so it was another good challenge for me and I wanted to play him head on."

Carolina's first win of the season before an announced crowd of 5,573 came after home ties against Tampa Bay, Dallas and Philadelphia.

Irbe began the season as the backup to Trevor Kidd after being signed as a free agent in September from the Canucks. But with Kidd struggling, Irbe has started the last three games. He's taking advantage of his playing time by allowing only four goals in his last 11 periods.

Irbe faced 18 shots by the Canucks, who matched their league-low average. Irbe lost his shutout 3:02 into the final period on a deflection by rookie Bill Muckalt, who scored his first NHL goal.

"After tying in this building against Dallas, it really gave confidence to this team and we've picked it up a notch," said Irbe. "The last couple o games have been pleasant to watch and play behind our whole team, not just the defensemen, but the forwards have been helping me a lot."

Primeau, who also assisted on Carolina's first goal, scored his third goal of the season 1:56 into the second period on the power play off a nice pass from Gary Roberts. Roberts also set up Sami Kapanen later in the second period as the Hurricanes built a 3-0 lead.

But unlike its season-opener in which Carolina blew a 4-1 second-period lead against Tampa Bay, the Hurricanes played solid defense in the final period to secure the win.

"Any time you have a total of five shots after two periods you know that you're not working with any great amount of intensity," said Vancouver coach Mike Keenan. "You're certainly not creating any offensive opportunities for yourself."

Ray Sheppard gave Carolina a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when he poked his first goal of the season past Garth Snow on a rebound shot from Steve Chiasson. It was Sheppard's 323rd goal of his career.

The game was Vancouver's first of five in an eight-day East Coast road trip.

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