RALEIGH, N.C. – Call it a bounce back opportunity that the Carolina Hurricanes took advantage of when they faced off against the San Jose Sharks at PNC Arena on Friday.
Jeff Skinner’s two goals along with singles from Chris Terry, Joakim Nordstrom, and Jordan Staal overpowered San Jose’s normally potent offense.
Following a disappointing 4-2 road loss to the Ottawa Senators the night before, the Hurricanes needed a win to stay in close contention for an NHL wildcard playoff spot.
They got home during the early hours of the morning, but didn’t look worse for the wear, and eventually outshot the Sharks 37-24 and topped one of the NHL’s hottest teams, 6-2-2 in its last 10, by three goals.
By the end of the night, Carolina (27-22-10) trailed the Tampa Bay Lightning, their next opponent, by two points.
“That was a good first period,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“There was a lot of pace, not very many whistles. I thought both teams were hungry. They’ve been on the road a little bit, that probably plays a factor, but we played well. I really liked the way we responded.”
Terry opened the game’s scoring on a high tip off a Noah Hanifin point shot that put Carolina ahead at the 7:03 mark of the first period.
While standing in the middle slot, Terry kept his eye on the puck as Hanifin snapped it towards the net which was subsequently deflected upwards along Sharks defenseman Brent Burns’ stick.
As it continued on its path towards the net, the Hurricanes winger managed to get his stick on it before it finally sailed over San Jose goalkeeper Martin Jones’s shoulder.
Jones finished the game making 32 saves, but was moving in all directions throughout the game as many scrambled plays around his net kept him busy and eventually worked to Carolina’s favor.
Burns tied it up for San Jose with 5:33 remaining in the period when he wired a snap shot from the high slot through traffic that Ward had no chance of seeing as it sailed over his trapper-side shoulder
Both teams carried an evenly-played effort into the first intermission, still tied 1-1 with eight shots on goal apiece.
While both teams traded power play time during the second period, Nordstrom’s even-strength shot from the high slot put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1 at the 12:25 mark.
Gaining the Sharks zone with speed along with a pass from Jordan Staal, Nordstrom had enough time and space in front of defenseman Paul Martin to set up his shot and beat Jones to the blocker side for his sixth goal of the season.
“We got in late (last night),” Staal said.
“I thought we did a great job of gettin’ our bodies into it, not worrying about what happened last night, and workin’ through that. I thought everyone was movin’ their feet well tonight and it showed.”
Carolina dominated the period, and outshot the Sharks with a season-high 19 shots while Ward only faced four.
“Yeah, they took the game over,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said.
“We didn’t have an answer. We pretty much got what we deserved tonight. I think we lost in too many of the tough areas – faceoffs, special teams. They deserved the win and we deserve what we got.”
In an attempt to try to slow the Hurricanes’ momentum, San Jose’s Mike Brown went after Staal unprovoked during a multiple-player puck battle in the corner to Jones’ right late in the period.
Not engaging more than clutching with Brown, Staal still went off for roughing with Brown who was also assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave the Hurricanes their second power-play opportunity of the game.
“I thought it was just a battle in the corner and he thought differently,” Staal said.
“He tried to do what he does.”
Brown’s work in drawing Staal into the penalty box backfired.
Carolina went to work quickly with the man-advantage that carried over into the third period and Skinner eventually pushed the puck into the net on a crease scramble 39 seconds in.
The play was whistled and the goal was disallowed for goaltender interference, but Peters used his coach’s challenge to review the play.
While the officials reviewed it in the penalty box, the crowd of 11,756 loudly chanted “goal, goal, goal.”
The crowd noise peaked in jubilation when it was announced that the original call was overturned and awarded Skinner the power play goal that put Carolina ahead 3-1.
Captain Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg earned assists on the play.
“I don’t know what my record is on those, but I thought it was something that needed to be challenged,” Peters said.
“Obviously, it was a big turning point in the game. Good execution by Staalsy and those guys on that power play.”
At the other end of the ice, Ward played tight to his post as Tomas Hertl attempted to cut into the Hurricanes lead, but was unsuccessful in doing so.
Poke checks and more saves with the Sharks threatening around his crease worked to Ward’s favor until a misplay behind the net resulted in a turnover and goal against.
While playing the puck along the boards, Ward couldn’t get it past Patrick Marleau who found Hertl alone at the top of the crease to score into the open net.
Carolina’s lead was trimmed to 3-2 with 9:22 remaining.
Skinner soon scored his second of the game, and 21st of the season, when he tucked away a blocked shot that originated from defenseman Jaccob Slavin off the left boards.
Jordan Staal added his goal, an empty-net marker with 2:25 left, and finalized the game’s scoring to end it at a three-goal margin of victory for the Hurricanes.
“I thought our whole game was good,” Jordan concluded.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of lapse in our game which is always nice to see. That second period’s always a pivotal period and can get you in a good spot, and we did a good job of building our game.”
“It was a big game,” added brother Eric.
“We wanted to get the points. It was huge. It was tough last night. We were scratchin’ and clawin’ and when you drop a game, you gotta’ respond, and we did.”