No one -- no one thinking reasonably, anyway -- expected Brandon Sutter to be Jordan Staal's equal after the Penguins acquired him in the trade that sent Staal to Carolina last June.
Nonetheless, Sutter has fit in nicely in Staal's old spot in the middle of the third line, and seems to be getting more comfortable by the day.
He scored a dramatic goal Wednesday night, tying the Penguins' game against Philadelphia at 17:57 of the third period, only to have Jakub Voracek of the Flyers get the game-winner 32 seconds later.
Voracek's goal, however, did not detract from what Sutter had been able to do.
"That's the type of goal you might expect from him," coach Dan Bylsma said. "A big goal, at a big time in the game."
Sutter's primary value is as a checking-line center, faceoff man and penalty-killer, but he has four goals and three assists in 17 games. And he's becoming more and more visible in the offensive.
"The first five or 10 games, he was getting comfortable and getting his skating legs, getting up to speed," Bylsma said. "I'm not sure that had a lot to do with the (Penguins') system or getting acquainted with that.
"The last seven to 10 games, he's skating well and playing well at both ends of the rink. He's been used a little bit more in situations against good players, and his line has been able to do that. He's also been better with the puck, and playing in the offensive zone."
Staal, by the way, has two goals and 10 assists in 14 games heading into the Hurricanes' game against Winnipeg tonight.
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