Hurricanes let Ducks fly away with 2-1 win

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes suffered a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in front of 11,991 at PNC Arena on Thursday.

It was the two teams’ final meeting of the season after playing one another in Anaheim on Feb. 3., a game which the Ducks also won, 5-4 in overtime.

Jeff Skinner scored the Hurricanes’ lone goal, on the power play, while goaltender Cam Ward made 15 saves in the losing effort.

Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey scored for Anaheim, and supported keeper John Gibson’s 35-save effort to earn his first-ever win against Carolina.

The loss ended Carolina’s recent two-game win streak, while Anaheim ended its five-game road trip with a win following two losses coming into the matchup.

Carolina outshot Anaheim 36-17, and dominated play for much of the game, but after falling behind, couldn’t score to keep pace with the top team in the Pacific Division – second overall in the NHL.

“We had a good start – a little false sense of security offensively,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.

“I didn’t think we were dangerous. I didn’t think we were on the inside, especially in the third. I just looked at our chances, and there isn’t a Grade A in the third. That’s disappointing.”

Following a scoreless first period during which Carolina peppered Gibson with 14 shots while Ward faced five, the entire game’s scoring took place in the second.

Skinner’s 11th goal of the season came at the 9:40 mark – a wrist shot that beat Gibson, hitting the keeper high in the chest area, and bouncing up and over him before eventually rolling into the net.

Defenseman John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin earned assists on the play.

It was Skinner’s first goal in 11 games, and first point since Jan. 10.

“It’s been a little frustrating for me on the PP,” Skinner said.

“It was a great pass by Johnny – great job by him and Jordan to chase down that icing right before, so it was nice to get one.”

Five minutes later, Beauchemin got his stick on a bouncing puck in Ward’s crease to tie the game 1-1.

Beleskey scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winner on a similar play, slapping at a bouncing puck in front of the Hurricanes net with 2:30 remaining in the period.

Though finishing 1-for-3 on the power play, Peters thought the team’s overall effort could have been better.

“We need to be better,” he said.

“When it was 0-0, we needed to get a goal earlier in the first at some point. Then once we made it 1-0, we gotta’ extend that lead.”

Skinner, along with linemates Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask put 16 total shots on net, while the Staal brothers, Eric and Jordan, along with Jiri Tlusty had numerous scoring attempts on Gibson, peppering the netminder with 11 total shots.

“We were ready to go, well rested,” Eric said.

“We went after them. We wanted to be rewarded with a couple goals. We had enough offensive chances to score, but we didn’t score any.”

Notes: Both coaches, Peters and Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau noted that a fight between Carolina’s Tim Gleason and Tim Jackman at 12:46 of the second period changed the momentum of the game to the Ducks’ favor…Anaheim continued its dominance in winning one-goal games, sitting ranked second in the NHL and extending their record in such situations to 24-0-7 accordingly…Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore played in his 100th career NHL game.

Boxscore: Anaheim 2, Carolina 1