RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Ray Whitney had a goal and two assists, and Rod Brind’Amour added a goal and an assist in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.

Justin Williams also had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who bounced back from a loss at Buffalo on Thursday night to win for the sixth time in seven games.

Cam Ward made 25 saves, and Erik Cole scored an empty-netter in the final minute to seal it in a matchup of the defending Stanley Cup champions and the NHL’s top team.

Teemu Selanne scored a pair of quick goals early in the second for the Ducks, who have lost three of their last six games.

The Hurricanes honored Brind’Amour with a brief pregame ceremony to mark his 1,000th career point, scored in November against Ottawa, and billed the game as “Rod Brind’Amour Night.” The Carolina captain lived up to the attention, scoring the tying goal early in the second period, then assisting on Williams’ go-ahead score a few minutes later.

Brind’Amour’s linemates were just as good. Williams assisted on Whitney’s first-period goal, while Whitney returned the favor on Williams’ putaway in the second. Whitney also got an assist when Brind’Amour redirected his shot on the power play to tie it.

Brind’Amour set up the winner, beating two Anaheim players to the puck outside the blue line and finding Whitney to start a push. Whitney skated in on the right, then sent a cross-ice pass to Williams, who charged in on the left side and beat Michael Wall for a 3-2 lead at 6:57 of the second period.

The Hurricanes certainly benefited from the absence of Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was day-to-day with a strained groin. Giguere, 23-4-5 with a 2.17 goals-against average, was injured in Tuesday’s win against San Jose.

Wall, a rookie, finished with 23 saves.

The Hurricanes also did a strong job on the penalty kill against the league’s No. 3-rated power play, killing off five of six chances for the Ducks with the man advantage.

Notes: Carolina C Eric Staal has managed one goal in the past 12 games. … Carolina D Niclas Wallin left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. … The Ducks have scored on the power play in 19 of the last 23 games. … Anaheim fell to 7-4-1 when an opponent scores first, while Carolina improved to 13-3 when scoring first. … Anaheim fell to 4-1 against the Southeast Division.

AP-ES-12-29-06 2141EST

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