RALEIGH, N.C. – Erik Cole scored three goals and Cam Ward posted his first regular-season shutout, leading the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

Eric Staal and Trevor Letowski also scored, Scott Walker had two assists and Ward stopped 20 shots. The Conn Smythe Trophy winner after he led Carolina to the Stanley Cup title last season, Ward had two shutouts in the 2006 playoffs.

It was Cole’s fourth career hat trick and first since an 8-2 win over Montreal on Jan. 31, 2006.

It also was his first multigoal game since March 4 against Pittsburgh, but that’s a game Cole probably would rather forget.

Later in that one, he was run over from behind by Brooks Orpik, breaking his neck in an injury that cost Cole three months.

This time, the Hurricanes scored on their first shot on goal when Walker burst down the right side on a 2-on-2 rush and passed to Cole, who tapped the puck past Brent Johnson at 5:47 of the first period.

Islanders 3, Flyers 1

PHILADELPHIA – Alexei Yashin scored twice and Rick DiPietro stopped 32 shots to lift the New York Islanders to a 3-1 win over the NHL-worst Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

The Flyers dropped to a woeful 2-5-1 at home and, even this early in the season, are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

Not even a coaching change has jolted the Flyers out of their season-long funk. Philadelphia lost its fourth straight, dropped to 2-5 under John Stevens and are 3-11-1 overall for a league-worst seven points. Through 15 games last season, the Flyers were 11-3-1.

The Islanders were sharp in their first game since coach Ted Nolan said his team seemed to quit in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Maybe playing on the road against the Atlantic Division-rival Flyers helped.

Devils 2, Blackhawks 1

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Zach Parise and Brian Gionta scored in the shootout to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the reeling Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

Parise and Gionta netted goals, and Martin Brodeur turned away Rene Bourque and Mikael Holmqvist to give the Devils their second straight shootout victory and send the Blackhawks to an eighth consecutive loss.

Mike Rupp scored in regulation for the Devils, who have won three in a row for the first time this season and five of six despite scoring only 10 actual goals.

Tuomo Ruutu had the lone tally for the Blackhawks.

Blue Jackets 4, Blues 2

ST. LOUIS – Rostislav Klesla scored twice and Rick Nash netted his first goal in a month during a wild second period to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

The frame featured six goals, five power-play opportunities and some ragged play from Blues goaltender Manny Legace. He failed to stop a breakaway by Klesla, allowed a short-handed goal to Dan Fritsche, missed Klesla’s lazy shot that slowly slid into the left side of the net, and nearly caused a fifth Columbus goal.

Legace received mock cheers when he made an easy save with 3:46 left in the period. He was replaced Curtis Sanford at the start of the third.

Bill Guerin gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead at 1:18 of the second, but Rick Nash tied it just under 2 minutes later. Keith Tkachuk restored the Blues’ advantage at 8:12 but Klesla scored twice and Fritsche added his first of the season in between.

The three goals came in a span of 5:09. Nash’s power-play tally came on his third shot in about 15 seconds during the shift and ended a nine-game drought.

He hadn’t scored since Oct. 9 against Phoenix.

Despite getting hit in the face with a high stick from Klesla, Tkachuk pushed the puck past Pascal Leclaire.

and gave St. Louis a chance to add to it as Klesla went to the penalty box.

The Blues didn’t capitalize, and the Blue Jackets took over from there.

Legace escaped further damage on his biggest gaffe of the game. He tried to send the puck around the boards behind his own net but it stayed in the corner. He had to scramble back to the crease to stop two point-blank Columbus shots.

Notes: Klesla hadn’t scored in 10 games. … Legace faced 21 of the Blue Jackets’ 29 shots. … Blues D Barret Jackman (knee) played for the first time in 11 games and earned an assist on Tkachuk’s goal. … St. Louis scratched D Dennis Wideman (hand) for the second consecutive game. C Dallas Drake (lower body) missed his first game.

AP-ES-11-09-06 2313EST

They host the St. Louis Blues on Friday and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. … Devils D David Hale was sent to Lowell of the AHL on a conditioning assignment. Hale has not played this season while recovering from eye surgery. … Blackhawks G Nikolai Khabibulin missed a sixth straight game with a broken finger. Chicago LW Martin Havlat missed his seventh consecutive due to an ankle sprain. … The Devils for 0-for-8 on the power play. The Blackhawks failed on four attempts and have gone six games without a man-advantage goal.

AP-ES-11-09-06 2235EST



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