RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes, led by a two-goal performance from Kris Versteeg, beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Single goals from Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom provided the additional offensive support the Hurricanes (22-20-8) needed while goaltender Eddie Lack’s 33-save performance also helped to earn the win.
Jiri Hudler and Joe Colborne scored for the Flames (21-22-3) while goaltenders Karri Ramo (16 saves on 19 shots) and Jonas Hiller (15 saves on 17 shots) split duties in net with Ramo credited with the loss.
For Carolina, the win was a vast improvement to a 4-1 loss suffered at the hands of the New York Rangers on Friday.
“A lot of guys found a way to get consistently, some chances,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“I thought we played really well through the first 40 minutes.”
It was during the first two periods during which Carolina really dominated play, outshooting Calgary by a 26-20 margin and led 3-0 early in the second.
Rask scored his 12th goal of the season on a wrist shot from the mid-slot and put Carolina ahead 1-0 at the 2:26 mark of the opening period.
Lindholm posted his seventh of the season on a penalty shot attempt late in the first after Calgary defenseman Kris Russell knocked him off-balance while he attempted to beat Ramo on a breakaway.
When Russell overskated the puck at the Carolina blue line, Lindholm beat him to it and was almost home free before Russell got a hold of him and caused him to slide through Ramo and the net.
The Swede was awarded a penalty shot with 2:13 to play in the period, and he made no mistake in scoring the Hurricanes’ first penalty shot goal of the season.
Versteeg extended the Hurricanes lead to three goals when he snapped home a cross-slot pass from Eric Staal at the 3:50 mark of the second.
A long stretch pass from defenseman Ron Hainsey all the way from deep in the Carolina zone found Staal open and onside in the neutral zone along the Calgary blue line.
From there, the Hurricanes captain held the puck long enough for defenseman T.J. Brodie to commit before sliding it to Versteeg who beat Ramo to score his ninth goal of the season.
As a result, Ramo was pulled and replaced with Hiller who played the remainder of the game for the Flames.
“Well, we were not ready, plain and simple,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said.
“We had a few days over here, and we talked about it yesterday, we talked about it this morning, but we were just not there.”
Sure to mount a pushback, the Flames peppered Lack who managed to keep each shot attempt out of the net with the help of his defense.
“He was good tonight,” Peter said.
“He made some saves.”
Fighting to staying in the game, the Flames finally caught a break when Hudler scored and cut the Carolina lead to two goals with 8:45 remaining in the period.
Mark Giordano’s pass from the corner to Lack’s left found its way through Justin Faulk’s skates in the goal crease and off Hudler’s stick and into the net past Lack.
With Carolina leading 3-1 to begin the third period, Calgary continued to make a significant push to pull closer.
Joe Colborne’s snap shot beat Lack high to his glove side and made it a one-goal game with 15 minutes left to play.
While the Flames outshot the Hurricanes during the period, Lack made the stops he needed to make.
“They came and they started to push in the third, and we didn’t manage the puck and play as responsibly as we should have,” Peters said.
“He had to bail us out at 3-2 and made a big save on (Sean) Monahan I believe. He made some good saves here tonight for sure.”
“I felt very comfortable out there today,” Lack added.
“It was a good win for our team.”
At the other end, the Hurricanes took advantage of Hiller’s short time in the game as Versteeg scored on a goalmouth scramble on the power play which allowed him to jam in his second goal into the net.
Just 32 seconds later, Nordstrom scored his second goal in as many games and rounded out the game’s scoring with 8:15 to play.
Further penalty trouble kept the Flames from continuing to mount any type of a comeback bid.
Instead, it provided Carolina even more opportunities to extend its lead, but that didn’t happen.
The Hurricanes finished 1-for-5 on the power play while fortunately killing off all five penalties they were called for throughout the game.
“We had a tough time stayin’ out of the box against a really dangerous team,” Versteeg said.
“All in all, our penalty kill was great. We played good. We knew there was gonna be a pushback. They’re a great team too. I thought we battled hard and found a way to win.”