Hurricanes lose final home game 5-4 in shootout against Blues

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RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes fell 5-4 in a shootout against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Playing its last regular-season home game at PNC Arena, Carolina put forth a much stronger effort in front of its home crowd compared to recent 3-0 losses to the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars.

Jeff Skinner led the Hurricanes with two goals while Joakim Nordstrom and Klas Dahlbeck added singles to match the Blues’ offensive output in regulation time.

Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring for the Blues followed by goals from Alexander Steen, Ryan Reaves, and Scottie Upshall.

Both starting goaltenders made an identical amount of saves, less one by St. Louis’ Carter Hutton, as Carolina’s Cam Ward finished with 35 stops in the losing effort.

“I thought it was a good hockey game, and I thought there was real good pace to the game both ways,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.

“I thought there was lots going on and it was very competitive and high level with some nice plays made on both ends.”

Highlights/Boxscore: St. Louis 5, Carolina 4 (SO)

Carolina led 2-1 after the first period as Dahlbeck matched Barbashev’s marker before Skinner scored the go-ahead goal with 29 seconds remaining.

Steen tied it up at the 5:19 mark of the second with a power play goal before Nordstrom regained the Hurricanes the lead, a 3-2 advantage with 5:49 left to play in the period.

Reaves’ seventh of the season evened it up and both teams were tied at three goals each to start the final regulation period.

Upshall scored shorthanded at the 2:03 mark before Skinner’s answered back with his 37th of the season – a new career.

Both teams remained even for the remaining ten minutes of regulation time and headed into overtime.

There wasn’t a shortage of scoring opportunities in the extra period, including a power play for each, as the Hurricanes outshot the Blues 5-4.

However, a shootout was needed and the difference-maker was St. Louis’ Vladamir Tarasenko who topped off a two-assist night by snapping a low shot past Ward’s trapper to end the game.

In addition to playing a spirited game in front of 13,509 in attendance, the Hurricanes had additional motivation to put forth knowing that teammate Bryan Bickell would be playing his last game in Raleigh as he would retire following the team’s last game in Philadelphia on Sunday as a result of being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) back in early November.

“It definitely has an impact, it’s a human element for sure,” Peters said.

“But, it’s a positive impact. He’s done a fantastic job and a lot of respect for him, from his teammates towards Bicks, for multiple reasons.”

“It’s my lap and I’m going to take it,” Bickell said.

“We’re just takin’ it day-by-day and see what’s next. We looked at situations and what-ifs, but for me and my family, tomorrow’s gonna be the last game. It’s just unfortunate – I tried. For me to be back here is a huge step. Tomorrow will be the last one – I have a lot of friends and family coming down. It will definitely be special.”

Packing up quickly to complete a back-to-back that ends against the Flyers, Carolina will seek to end its season with a win.

That’s what the team’s leading scorer is intending to do.

“I think we’ve been through a lot this year,” Skinner said.

“The guys are playin’ for each other and I think it’s a good feeling. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the way that the season’s gone and the result. The guys have showed they have character and wanna keep that intact and finish off strong.”