Hurricanes top Avalanche 3-2 in shootout

RALEIGH, N.C. – Though they lost to the Colorado Avalanche earlier this year in Denver, the Carolina Hurricanes took care of keeping them winless in Raleigh for a fifth consecutive time.

Led by First Star of the game Jordan Staal, the Hurricanes beat the Avs 3-2 in a shootout in front of 12,965 in attendance at PNC Arena on Tuesday.

Staal and Patrick Dwyer scored in regulation while Victor Rask’s shootout winner combined with a 28-save performance by Anton Khudobin earned him his third win of the season.

Carolina (14-24-5) extended its record in January to 4-1-1, outshooting the Avs 46-30, its highest shot output of the season since a 45-shot barrage against San Jose back in November.

Matt Duchene and John Mitchell scored for Colorado (18-17-9) while recently recalled netminder Calvin Pickard made 44 saves in the Avalanche net.

It was Pickard who beat the Hurricanes 4-3 to earn his first NHL win back on Nov. 22 with a basic 17-save outing.

Carolina ensured that he would have to make more of an effort this time around to keep his team in the game – which he did.

The Hurricanes established puck control from the opening faceoff and tested Pickard early.

The Staal Line, with Jordan and brother Eric along with Elias Lindholm, posted three of Carolina’s first four shots on goal with Eric’s attempts threatening to score early on.

However, it was Jordan who scored his first of the season on a give-and-go with Ryan Murphy to put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0 at the 14:05 mark of the first period.

Murphy tapped it up to Staal in the neutral zone, and as he crossed the Colorado blue line, he headed toward to the high slot after he passed it back to Murphy.

The defenseman had joined the rush and was open low in the right circle when he got the puck back.

With only Avalance defenseman Maxime Talbot to beat, Murphy threaded a pass to a streaking Staal who let a one-timer go to beat a sprawling Pickard.

“It’s nice to always get the goose egg out of the way,” Staal said.

“It’s been happening for a few games, some good chances and tonight I felt like I was gonna’ find a way to get one.”

At the other end, Khudobin was sharp in making key saves, most notably sticking his right pad out on a Jerome Iginla redirect attempt in close.

The Hurricanes led 1-0 following the first period, outshooting the Avalanche by a margin of 20-9.

“Really good start for sure,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.

“It would have been nice to have to get a few more in the first, but it wasn’t the case.”

Carolina continued to pepper Pickard who was sharp in stuffing Victor Rask in close early in the second.

Soon after, Colorado’s Matt Duchene broke into the slot and beat Khudobin with a deke, but rung the shot off the crossbar with his backhand attempt.

Dwyer then tallied his fourth of the season on a shot through traffic with the help of linemates Jay McClement and Brad Malone.

McClement started the play by tapping the puck into the Colorado zone where Malone picked it up.

Malone then slid the puck towards the top of the left circle to Dwyer who then cut across the high slot and threaded a low wrist shot through Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin’s legs and under a screen set by McClement.

Pickard had no chance as the puck stayed on the ice and made it through his pads to put Carolina ahead 2-0 at the 6:03 mark.

Though weary from a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals the night before, the Avalanche picked up their pace and threatened to score again as Nathan MacKinnon rung a shot of his own off the post with seven minutes to play in the period.

The attempt to beat Khudobin followed a pad save that Pickard made on Jordan Staal as he tried to put away his second goal of the night.

With four minutes to play in the second, MacKinnon found himself wide open again as Tyson Barrie threaded a pass to him from the corner to Khudobin’s left.

The Carolina netminder flashed the leather quickly and robbed the Avs’ center of a goal.

The Hurricanes finished 0-for-1 on the power play, and extended their franchise record to 11 games in not allowing a power play goal against, shutting down Colorado’s lone man-advantage opportunity of the game.

As the period drew to a close, Pickard made an impressive stop, stacking his pads to deny a one-time attempt by Alexander Semin.

Carolina carried its two goal lead into the second intermission.

It only took the Avs 25 seconds into the third to pull within one as Duchene finally managed to flip the puck over Khudobin’s shoulder from the low crease area.

The Hurricanes didn’t falter and they executed repeated high-energy puck possessions that continued to challenge Pickard and the Avs defense.

The line of Jeff Skinner, Alexander Semin, and Riley Nash had numerous chances to extend the score for Carolina as play approached the midpoint of the period.

After picking up the loose puck in his end, Colorado’s Mitchell skated the entire length of the ice before releasing a low snap shot that slid through Khudobin’s pads and evened the score 2-2 with 9:55 to play in regulation.

Having earned his first NHL win against Carolina, a 4-3 decision in Denver back on Nov. 22, Pickard worked to top that performance, stymying numerous shot attempts including Jordan’s backhander to win the game with 11.2 seconds to play.

During the overtime period, Carolina continued to control play, and Pickard came up with a pad save on Eric Staal early on.

After Colorado’s possession didn’t get a shot on Khudobin at the other end, Murphy forced Pickard to make a split save to keep play going.

With 25.5 seconds remaining, the Avs were penalized and Mitchell went to the box for hooking.

As time ran down, Carolina’s Justin Faulk beat Pickard with a shot from the point, but it hit the post and kept both teams tied and headed into a shootout which Carolina won quickly and efficiently.

Rask and Lindholm both beat Pickard in succession with forehand-to-backhand dekes that went top shelf, while Khudobin stoned both MacKinnon’s and Duchene’s attempts.

The extra effort in earning the win made up for the Carolina’s third period lapses that allowed the Avs to tie the game and earn a point from it, particularly while playing in a back-to-back set on the road.

“It was disappointing how we handled our success in the first period,” Peters said.

“I didn’t think we handled it as well as we should have. You don’t want to give up that early goal after a neutral-zone faceoff win. It’s disappointing. That obviously opened the door and they did a real good job buildin’ the game. Playin’ back-to-back, it didn’t look like they had a lot of legs early, but got better as they went. In the pre-scout game in Washington, they were a dominant team in the third also. When they turn it up, they’re a very dangerous group.”

Donning the team’s fire helmet after claiming another shootout victory, the manner by which he’s earned all his wins this year, Khudobin talked of the key to winning the game-deciding skills contest.

“Your confidence has to be in the middle,” he said.

“Not too high, not too low. You have to be confident and comfortable in what you do in how to stop the puck.”

Notes: Carolina’s 20 shots on goal during the first period established a new season mark…Coming into the game, the Hurricanes had seven players on current point streaks. With an assist, Murphy extended his current streak to three games (0g, 4a)…Before facing off against the Avs, Carolina had 363 takeaways to its credit, ranking third in the NHL. They added 21 more to that total…The Hurricanes entered the game ranked fourth with an 86.7 percent penalty-killing percentage, and have now killed off 29 straight penalties since allowing their last power play goal against the New York Rangers on Dec. 20.

Boxscore: Carolina 3, Colorado 2