The Carolina Hurricanes had not won a home opener since the fall of 2008 but they held on to win on Friday night, 3-2 against the New York Rangers in front of an announced sell-out crowd at the PNC Arena.
Jeff Skinner had two goals and an assist on a huge night for the Carolina winger. It seemed Skinner notched a hat-trick as his buzzer beating shot with a fraction of a second left in the second period found it’s way into the net.
The home crowd faithful promptly threw their free hats on the ice, which were just given out as they entered the arena, but the goal was properly awarded to Bryan Bickell, who was in the cease at the time, bothering Henrik Lundqvist.
Skinner’s shot just grazed Bickell’s jersey before heading into the net. It was his first goal of the year and first as a member of the Hurricanes.
The game did not start out well for the home team as the Rangers came out with jump and put constant pressure on in the Carolina zone. They ended up scoring a powerplay tally when Mats Zuccarello scored his third of the season when Cam Ward was down and out in his net.
Ron Hainsey and a Ranger fell on top of the Carolina goalie and the puck squirted out to the front. While they both eventually got up, Ward stayed down which allowed Zuccarello the easy shot.
Bill Peters had the play reviewed for goalie interference, but the refs determined that the goal would stand. At the time the Rangers were outshooting the Canes by an 8-1 margin.
A bit later in the first period, Skinner would score his first of the night as he ripped one from the circle past Lundqvist.
Then just 33 seconds into the second, Skinner would score a beautiful backhander which surprised both the New York defender and goalie.
Zuccarello would score again later in the second on a breakaway before Bickell’s game-winner to end the period.
Both teams battled in the third but neither lit the lamp. Carolina did a good job of continuing to attack instead sitting back on the lead, which had burned them earlier this season.
Victor Rask extended his consecutive games scoring streak to seven with two assists. The center also finished with a team best +2.
- Rask and Skinner are tied with the team’s lead in scoring with nine points each. (4G 5A) Lee Stempniak and Noah Hanifin are next with six each. Hanifin has a team high six assists.
- Cam Ward improved his save percentage to .872 with his performance. Peters confirmed that Ward will start Sunday against the Flyers. “You win and you’re in” said the coach.
- Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck got banged up a bit and played limited or no minutes later in the game. When asked if he was taken from the game because of injury or performance, the coach replied “both”. Dahlbeck was on the ice for the Zuccarello breakaway Friday night as well as Dylan Larkin’s breakaway in Detroit.
- Justin Faulk played a team high 24:25 and played an excellent game, perhaps his best of the season. He also had two blocked shots and two breakaways.
- Skinner had three takeaways and tied with Elias Lindholm for that team high.
- The Canes continue to do well in the faceoff circle, winning 60% for the game. Jordan Staal led the way with a 72% average for the game.