RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes held off the defending Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings for a 3-2 win at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Victor Rask, Chris Terry, and Elias Lindholm scored for Carolina while goaltender Cam Ward made 30 saves to earn his and the team’s second win in as many nights.
“I thought we started on time here again today and played with tempo through 40 (minutes),” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“I give them credit. They came hard in the third and then, back-to-back, we might have tapered off a little bit, but I liked our effort and intensity.”
While Carolina was coming off its first win of the season over Arizona (3-0) the night before, the Kings were on a three-game winless stretch that included back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh (3-0) and Detroit (5-2) on Thursday and Friday.
Both teams each shot 32 pucks on net throughout and LA goaltender Jonathan Quick was equally up to the task as Ward was in making numerous key saves as both teams worked to play fundamentally-based hockey throughout.
If Carolina was going to put the puck past him, it would have to be when he was out of position.
The Hurricanes’ line of Boychuk, Victor Rask, and Chris Terry did just that when they combined to set Rask up to score his first career NHL goal at 18:26.
Rask initiated the breakout and rush out of the Carolina zone before leading the puck up to Boychuk who then hit Terry on the tape with a rink-wide pass in the Kings zone.
Terry then slid the puck back across, towards the top of the crease, and caught Quick off-guard.
While the netminder tried to recover, Rask was all alone and pushed the puck into the net to give Carolina a 1-0 lead which it carried into the first intermission.
Carolina went 1-for-4 on the power play and it was Terry who scored on a one-timer with the man-advantage that helped extend the lead to 2-0 just 50 seconds into the second period.
After he kept the puck in the LA zone on a failed clearing attempt, Terry waited as the puck worked over and back across the point before he teed up his shot from the faceoff dot.
Defenseman Andrej Sekera slid the puck towards him and in one motion Terry blasted the puck past Quick.
“The play kind of developed where Sekera got it up top and he made a nice play to freeze Quick,” Terry said.
“I just tried to get open. I work on my one-timer a lot. It’s a big part of my game, so I was cocked and loaded, and obviously waitin’ for it and ready.”
Faced with a two-goal deficit, the Kings cut the margin to one goal when Mike Richards scored on the power play at the 5:39 mark.
After Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore was called for hooking, the Kings put together a tic-tac-toe play that Justin Williams and Drew Doughty strung together to make Richards the recipient of a pass and shot that he took that beat Ward and narrowed Carolina’s lead to 2-1.
The former Charlotte Checkers line continued to wreak havoc on Quick as Boychuk and Rask both forced him to make exceptional saves before Jarrett Stoll was penalized for interference at 12:15, giving the Hurricanes their second power play opportunity of the game.
“By trade they’re goal scorers, as we know, right?” Peters said of the Boychuk-Rask-Terry line.
“They’ve scored at the American League level, they have skill. Chucky’s a former first-round pick, and they’re coming into their own a little bit, right in front of our eyes – that’s what I see. I thought that line was very good, and Victor has a lot of poise and makes good decisions with the puck.”
Though not scoring on that power play opportunity, Lindholm eventually extended Carolina’s lead to 3-1 after he and Gerbe executed a 2-on-2 that used Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr as a screen.
Riely Nash initiated the play with a lead pass to Gerbe to gain the zone, and then a drop pass to Lindholm allowed the second-year forward to let a wrist shot go that Quick had no chance of seeing with his defenseman screening him.
The goal was Lindholm’s third of the season, and added to his first two which he scored against Phoenix on Saturday.
Alec Martinez kept the Kings close after an unclaimed puck from an outlet pass initiated by Jay Harrison in the Carolina zone ended up on his stick.
The defenseman blasted a shot from the blue line that beat Ward and scored an unassisted goal to once again cut the Hurricanes lead to one goal, 3-2, with 12:02 to play.
However, that was as much offense as the Kings could put together as Ward continued to make exceptional saves at his end and the Hurricanes never relinquished the lead.
With 3:08 remaining, what looked like a definite goal-scoring chance for Anze Kopitar was denied by Ward with a sliding pad save.
“He was really good,” Peters said of Ward’s play.
“Back-to-back, he did a good job. He made a heckuva save on that delayed penalty there on I think it was Kopitar on the back door. He got across – that was a huge save.”
A penalty on the play to Jay Harrison gave LA a prime opportunity to try to tie the game, but once again, it was Ward who made a big glove save on a Justin Williams point shot with 1:08 to play that maintained the Carolina lead.
The goaltender got the support of his teammates in front of him and the Hurricanes fought off all final advances from the Kings to tie the game, and earned another win at home in front of 10,519 in attendance.
“It’s starting the formation of an identity,” Peters said of his team’s winning play over the weekend.
“We want to have an identity and we want it to be positive and with the characteristics. This weekend we started to form an identity and the guys started to believe.”
“We’re real close – really close,” Peters continued.
“We think there’s a couple of things we can do to get deep, really deep. When we get to that, I think we’re gonna’ have a fun team to watch, and a team that plays with a lot of tempo and pace, and a four-line team. I’m looking forward to gettin’ to that day.”
Notes: Nathan Gerbe took a team-high six shots on goal with Zach Boychuk close behind with five as both made up 34 percent of the team’s shooting output…Defenseman Justin Faulk earned the honor of wearing Peters’ red firemen’s helmet, a new team postgame recognition started on Saturday when Ward received it…Coming into the game, LA had a league-leading three shorthanded goals to its credit, but Carolina didn’t allow any against, even with four power plays, and maintained their league lead in that category accordingly.