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Kovalenko, Irbe Lift 'Canes

Andrei Kovalenko hopes he's finally found a permanent home in North Carolina.

He hopes the management of the Carolina Hurricanes feels the same way.

Kovalenko scored his second goal in three games with Carolina to lead the Hurricanes to a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.

The 28-year-old Kovalenko, acquired from Philadelphia on March 6 for defenseman Adam Burt, took a pass from Keith Primeau from behind the net and lifted a shot past Ken Wregget 2:32 into the third period. He also scored in Carolina's 4-1 win over Buffalo on March 8.

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  • "I feel comfortable here," said Kovalenko. "I feel like I have to show everybody how much I love this game. I hope I can do that here. I like this team."

    The goal was the 15th of the season for Kovalenko, who started the season in Edmonton. He's already gotten the attention of Carolina coach Paul Maurice.

    "He has some good strength and has got some good finishing moves," said Maurice. "It's exciting for him. He gets a fresh start with a bunch of new (teammates) and he's already scored some pretty key goals. He's definitely got some skills."

    The Hurricanes won for the fourth time in their last five home games and snapped Calgary's three-game winning streak.

    But not even Calgary, the worst penalty-killing team in the NHL, could help the Hurricanes snap out of their power-play doldrums.

    Carolina's league-worst power play came into the game 2-of-30 in a span of six games, and went 0-for-5 Friday night.

    "It was an ugly game," said Maurice. "They play a gritty style and it's difficult to get any flow going."

    The Hurricanes also gave up their fourth short-handed goal of the season after taking an early lead.

    Bates Battaglia gave Carolina a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the game, sliding a shot under Wregget's left pad from just outside the faceoff circle.

    The Hurricanekilled a two-man Calgary advantage later in the period and got their first power play when Cale Hulse was sent off for interference at 11:41.

    The Flames cleared Carolina's first power-play rush the length of the ice and Cory Stillman chased down the puck, catching Irbe out of position behind the net. Irbe couldn't get back to the crease in time and Stillman pushed in a backhander just 12 seconds into the Carolina power play to tie the score at 1-1.

    Stillman's 22nd was Calgary's 11th short-handed goal of the season, tied for second-best in the league.

    The Hurricanes staved off another two-man advantage in the second period but generated little offensive pressure on two power plays of their own. Sami Kapanen had Carolina's best even-strength chance of the period, ripping a point-blank shot off the cross bar near the eight-minute mark.

    Calgary was playing its fourth road game in seven nights. The Flames had scored 16 goals in their previous three games since dealing leading scorer Theo Fleury to Colorado on Feb. 28.

    "We've been on the road for four games and that's the hardest game we've played," said Calgary coach Brian Sutter. "They are a big, strong team and at every line, they have some skill."
    even-strength chance of the period, ripping a point-blank shot off the cross bar near the eight-minute mark.

    Calgary was playing its fourth road game in seven nights. The Flames had scored 16 goals in their previous three games since dealing leading scorer Theo Fleury to Colorado on Feb. 28.

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