RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes earned a 3-2 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena on Friday.
Elias Lindholm scored the overtime winner, but goals from Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask, along with a 29-save performance from goaltender Cam Ward provided the foundation for Carolina to post its fourth consecutive win of the season.
The two teams faced off against one another for the second time since Tuesday when Carolina beat Columbus 4-2 at Nationwide Arena.
Even though the Hurricanes were undefeated in three games, they didn’t play with the same intensity and positional consistency as they recently had.
It showed from the opening faceoff as Carolina was outshot 11-4, and rarely tested Columbus keeper Curtis McElhinney, who eventually made 32 saves in the losing effort.
“We didn’t shoot the puck in the first 40 minutes,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“We were cute – we had it a little bit – moved it around the perimeter, but nobody was on the inside, nobody was at the net, nobody was in the goalie’s eyes. Then, all of a sudden a switch flipped and all of a sudden we started throwin’ things at the net. That’s what you gotta’ do. You gotta’ get the odd greasy goal. You gotta’ pay the price.”
Midway through the opening period, Carolina’s best chance to score was waved off after Nathan Gerbe and Alexander Semin had apparently jammed the puck through the Blue Jackets goaltender’s pad.
After review, the play was deemed a non-goal due to the goalie being pushed into the net, and both teams eventually skated to the first intermission locked in a scoreless tie.
“You gotta’ give ‘em credit,” Peters said.
“They played a pretty good road game, but I didn’t like our emotional involvement in the game. I didn’t think that we were engaged in the game as we have been here in the past. It shows in the stats sheet. I know we had a lot of giveaways – it felt like we gave away the puck a little bit too easy. I didn’t think we were very physical, so we cranked it up a little bit in the third and found a way.”
Skinner scored his second of the season and put Carolina ahead 1-0 at 2:43 in the second period.
The shifty forward picked the puck away from Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout in front of the Columbus net and then beat McElhinney with a low backhand shot.
Eventually finishing the game 1-for-7 on the power play, Carolina couldn’t beat McElhinny for the remainder of the middle period, even with three extra-man opportunities to do so.
The Blue Jackets didn’t relent and eventually Scott Hartnell tied it up 1-1 at the 11:15 mark, scoring the first of his and his team’s two goals on the night.
He snapped a shot past Ward who was surrounded by a group of Hurricanes players in the slot area who couldn’t tie him up, nor teammate Boone Jenner.
It was Jenner who slid the puck to Hartnell from behind the net on the play.
With 1:16 remaining in the period, both players combined once more and Columbus took its first lead of the game.
As Jenner drove to the net from his off-wing and held off Jay McClement, he slid the puck into the low slot where Hartnell once again found himself open to put the puck over Ward in the goal mouth scramble that ensued.
Trailing 2-1 to start the third period, the Hurricanes eventually tied it up when Rask scored his second of the season with 8:09 left to play in regulation time.
It took an exceptional individual effort on his part, out of the corner to the left of the Columbus net, to score the equalizer.
After his linemates at the time, Gerbe and Semin, took their turns at attempting to beat McIlhenny while cycling around the crease area, Rask created enough time and space with his stickhandling to set up his goal from along the boards.
As he turned towards the faceoff dot, he let a wrist shot go through traffic that handcuffed the Columbus keeper while the puck sailed over his shoulder to tie the game 2-2.
Both goalies continued to make key stops for the remainder of the period, and eventually forced the teams to head into overtime to determine the winner.
“You can’t win in this league without good goaltending, everybody knows that,” Staal said of Ward’s play.
“He’s been real solid for us through that stretch. We were down one, but we stayed with the game and Cam made a couple of good saves to keep it that way. Big goal by Victor to get us back in the game.”
In overtime, it looked as though the captain would be the hero as defenseman Ron Hainsey found Staal open and streaking to the Columbus blue line to break in on goal.
As Staal got control of the pass from Hainsey, he had only McElhinny to beat.
However, as he took his shot, he was hauled down by Prout and Carolina was afforded its final man-advantage to try and win the game with just under two minutes to play.
Skating in on a two-on-one with 38 seconds remaining, it was Lindholm who beat McElhinny with a low shot to the glove side to give Carolina the 3-2 win to the delight of the 11,540 in attendance.
“I closed my eyes and shot it,” Lindholm said smiling and joking.
“Tried to get the shot on – luckily it went in.”
With the team’s young players once again coming through, Peters heaped praise upon the two Swedes who helped to tie and win the game.
“He’s a real smart player,” Peters said of Lindholm.
“If you continue to work and work through your troubles, you’ll get rewarded in the end. He didn’t take any shortcuts. He was physical tonight too. He was engaged in the battles and finished a check in the third period – behind the net there. If you do good things, you’re gonna’ get rewarded and he’s one of ‘em. He’s a great example of that – him and Victor. Victor, I thought was real good here tonight. I think he possibly could have been our best forward.”
Notes: Columbus played the more physical game, outhitting Carolina 34-10…Carolina’s struggles could be accounted for with 10 giveaways to Columbus’ one…A bright spot remained in the faceoff circle as the Hurricanes won 58 percent of all draws…Lindholm earned the honor of wearing the fire helmet as player of the game…Coming into the game, Carolina forward Chris Terry was ranked sixth in NHL rookie scoring (7 points) and third in rookie goals scored with four.