Blues top Hurricanes 3-2 in shootout

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes ended their recent three-game win streak, but still earned a point, falling 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues at PNC Arena on Friday.

Defensemen Justin Faulk and Ryan Murphy both scored for Carolina (17-25-6) while Cam Ward made 29 saves on 29 shots faced while coming in to relieve starter Anton Khudobin.

A sluggish start by the skaters in front of him left Khudobin defenseless and unprepared, as he let in two goals on three shots just minutes apart.

Ryan Reaves and David Backes tallied both goals for St. Louis (31-13-4) as they found themselves open in the left and right faceoff circle areas to beat Khudobin and put the Blues ahead 2-0 by the 3:25 mark of the first period.

“It’s hard to say,” Khudobin said while searching for the words to explain his rough start, an aberration of his recent outstanding play.

“It happens – hiccups like that. A pass into the middle – maybe I didn’t have good position or whatever. Especially on the second one, so…it happens sometimes.”

Carolina head coach Bill Peters pulled Khudobin and replaced him with Ward to change the pace of the game which his team had not yet caught up to.

“I really don’t have an explanation why, but it was definitely a slow start,” Peters said.

“Two, could have been three nothin’. I thought we did a good job after that. The goalie change was more to slow their momentum down, obviously not a reflection on the goaltender. We didn’t start on time, that’s for sure.”

At the other end, Blues starting goaltender Jake Allen made 26 saves to earn the win, and was eventually challenged by Carolina’s offense during the latter part of the period.

St. Louis dominated play for the first eight minutes, but Carolina finally found its pace and eventually led to Faulk teeing up his 10th goal of the season from the blue line at 10:57.

Jay McClement and Brad Malone each assisted on the play through their hard work to dig the puck out of the corner and back to the defenseman.

“We built the game,” Peters said.

“It was good to see. Obviously it could have went either way, but the guys dug in. Big goal to give us a little life and we started to play harder and play smarter. We realized there was a little more time than we thought to make plays, and we started to make more plays.”

Carolina trailed 2-1 by the first intermission, but outshot the Blues 9-8.

A well contested second period showed both Ward and Allen competing to make quality saves.

Allen denied a wraparound attempt by Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, while Ward stuffed Alexander Steen on a shot in the low slot.

Both teams used the body and delivered many blows to one another, a combined 76 hits, while battling for puck possession and defending their zones throughout the game.

Carolina finished 1-for-2 on the power play as Murphy’s first of the season, an on an ice-level point shot, made it through traffic in front of Allen and tied the game, 2-2, with 5:41 to play in the period.

Riley Nash and Jordan Staal earned assists on the play.

Still tied, both teams came out ready to decide the game in the third.

Ward’s effective positioning and effort to control rebounds kept the Blues from taking the lead.

After coming in so quickly after the first puck drop, he eventually found a zone which he stayed in.

“It’s difficult, but part of being a professional, you gotta’ be ready at any given time,” Ward said.

“The body needs a little bit of time to warm up, but once I got in there, obviously the adrenaline’s pumpin’ and you get comfortable as the game goes on. “

At the other end, Allen was in his groove, but also got help from the hardware behind him.

A mid-ice lob from center ice that Jeff Skinner launched nearly found its way into the net, but ricocheted off the right post.

It would have made for a dramatic game-winning goal, but luckily for Allen, it didn’t.

Both teams pressed during the final minutes of regulation play, but neither could break the deadlock and headed to overtime.

Another five minutes of play saw Ward and Allen display exceptional positioning to make three saves apiece before heading to the shootout.

After both keepers denied first-round opportunities by Carolina’s Victor Rask and Blues shootout specialist T.J. Oshie, Chris Terry’s backhander rang of the left post while Kevin Shattenkirk’s wrist shot beat Ward on the blocker side to give St. Louis the advantage.

It was then left to the Hurricanes captain to even it up, but Allen squeezed his pads together and made the save that extended the Blues’ current win streak to four games.

“It was a battle and tight-checking type game,” Staal said.

“They were lettin’ some stuff go and that was fine – it was both ways. We were competing and it was unfortunate to not get it done in the shootout.”

Though Carolina didn’t post another win, the point they earned was their seventh in the last nine games against the Blues.

The Hurricanes now head to New York to face the Rangers on Saturday and will continue on a four-game road streak that will take them West to face Anaheim, Arizona, and San Jose.

Notes: Hurricanes players felt guilty for Khudobin’s rough start. “They were apologizing to Dobey before Dobey even got to within 50 feet of the bench,” Peters said…On what he would do to get through his rough start, Khudobin said, “I’m going to talk to goalie coach. Games like that happen, you know. I just have to forget about it and move forward and work on the little things.”

Boxscore: St. Louis 3, Carolina 2