RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes finally earned a win at home.
Justin Faulk’s two power play goals helped fuel a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings at PNC Arena on Sunday.
The victory ended a five-game winless streak during which Carolina held leads, but didn’t hold on to them to secure two points each time.
It also ended a home slate of games on a positive note with four goals scored, the most the Hurricanes (7-10-3) have tallied since their 5-3 win at Detroit on Oct. 16.
“This home stretch we had points in four out of five,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“I like the way we are going. I believe in our group. It was a full 60 minutes tonight.”
In addition to Faulk’s output, Brett Pesce and Jeff Skinner each scored to bolster the offensive effort that helped goaltender Cam Ward earn his sixth win while making 26 stops against the Kings (12-8-0).
With numerous icing and offside whistles sounded during the game’s opening minutes, the pace of play eventually picked up.
An offensive possession during which captain Eric Staal slapped the puck forward to Victor Rask and then Elias Lindholm in the slot almost made it through, but Kings netminder Jonathan Quick (17 saves) denied the shot attempt from the young Swede.
It wasn’t long after that Pesce scored his first NHL goal to give Carolina the 1-0 lead at 3:31 into the opening period.
Brad Malone earned the assist on the play that originated with the forward winning the draw back to the rookie defenseman who’s low shot was slightly tipped upwards off Kings winger Tanner Pearson’s stick and continued forward to beat Quick.
“It was a good play,” Pesce said.
“I think it was (Nathan) Gerbe kinda holding him up a bit and gettin’ in his way, so it gave me time to walk up the middle and fire away and I got rewarded.”
Malone later got back into service and came to the aid of linemate Gerbe who fell awkwardly after taking a hit from Kings defenseman Kyle Clifford.
Malone and Clifford tussled, exchange punches, and pulled each other around for a minute or so before they were escorted to the box to serve offsetting five-minute majors for fighting.
Gerbe glided cautiously towards the Hurricanes bench, not putting any weight on his right leg, and was helped to the dressing room.
He didn’t return for the remainder of the game and was listed with a lower body injury.
Carolina carried its 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to extend their advantage once play resumed.
Skinner scored at 1:48 when he one-timed the puck towards the net from behind the goal line.
Playing it from the bank off the boards as a result of a redirected shot from Pesce which tipped off Kris Versteeg, Skinner managed to hit Quick’s right pad to score his fourth of the season.
“Every game before this one has been close, it’s been tight, it’s been not a lot of offense both ways. You need to except that and know the type of game its gonna be and tonight they didn’t give up a lot either. Tonight, I liked the way that we were aggressive and kept playin’, the way we’re supposed to. Tonight we got rewarded with some good bounces and got the result.”
Soon after Skinner’s goal the Hurricanes had a two-man advantage as a result of back-to-back infractions to the Kings’ Drew Doughty (interference) and Anze Kopitar (delay of game – faceoff violation).
Versteeg quickly rifled a shot off the post to Quick’s right just after the puck dropped to restart play.
It didn’t take much longer for the puck to end up in the net as Faulk scored his seventh goal of the season to put Carolina up 3-0.
After Lindholm couldn’t get his stick on the puck, it was swiped back to Faulk who sniped a shot under the cross bar over Quick’s stick-side shoulder at the 4:26 mark.
Versteeg also earned his second assist of the game on the play as Faulk maintained his league lead in power play goals scored and goals scored by a defenseman.
“Hopefully, it’s a confidence builder from the PP, and also holding the lead goin’ into the third,” Versteeg said.
“It’s always nice when you get rewarded for a lot of hard effort.”
Play continued to work in the Hurricanes’ favor as Doughty returned to the box for delay of game after batting the puck over the end glass with his glove.
What looked like another optimal advantage to score was quickly negated when Skinner was whistled for interference at 5:57.
LA worked to get shots on net, but Ward stayed focused to deny any of them from getting past him as both teams skated through the midpoint of the period.
Quick stayed just as sharp as his stick got in the way of a breakaway attempt from Staal.
The game then hit a turning point for the Kings.
As Ward lunged for a loose puck in his crease with the help of rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin, they denied Kings captain Dustin Brown from slapping it into the net.
Apparently from the referee’s vantage point, Hanifin got his hand on the puck and the play was called a a penalty shot was awarded.
Brown took advantage of it, deked Ward to the right, and fired the puck under the cross bar to put the Kings on the board, trailing 3-1 with 6:58 remaining in the period.
Hanifin’s reaction to the goal was three violent slaps of his stick against the boards on the bench.
“I was obviously pretty upset about it, I didn’t want to let the team down,” he said.
“There was a lot of arguments of what happened. I personally thought Wardo covered the puck and my hand ended up on top of his. It was just kind of a big scrum, and I think the ref thought I covered it with my glove. I’m pretty sure I knew what happened. When he called it, I was pretty disappointed he (Brown) scored. In that moment, I think did a pretty good job of bouncing back getting the power play goal.”
The Kings kept the pressure on as Kopitar beat Ward after Faulk’s clearing pass through the zone didn’t make it past the blue line.
In just 58 seconds, Carolina’s lead was cut to one goal, 3-2.
While goal-mouth scrambles continued, Ward threw his body from side-to-side in his crease, Glenn Hall-style to keep the puck out of his net.
Another power play gave Carolina the bounce and goal it needed as they gained one back off a Quick miscue with defenseman Alec Martinez.
Faulk’s point shot was stopped by the goalkeeper and as the puck dribbled to his right in the crease, Martinez’s attempt to clear it was misplayed with him pushing the puck past the goal line with his skate.
Hanifin and Victor Rask helped set up the power play goal, Faulk’s eighth of the season.
“I got pretty lucky on the second one,” Faulk said.
“I think it went off Martinez,or whatever there in front. The first one, the same thing – I got pretty lucky that the puck popped out to me there, and I had some room to shoot. I just try to shoot to put pucks on net – if it goes in, it goes in.”
Even while being outshot and outscored in the period, the Hurricanes carried a two-goal advantage, 4-2, into the final 20 minutes of regulation time.
Goaltender Jhonas Enroth began the third period for LA and was faced with defending Carolina’s power play.
The Kings’ Pearson was called for high sticking just eight seconds into the period and was soon followed by Brown, who went to the box for hooking.
The Hurricanes had a 33-second 5-on-3 advantage with which to test Enroth with, but eventually didn’t put many pucks on net during either man-advantage.
Carolina continued to maintain possession in the Kings end until a breakout led by Jeff Carter put a threatening sequence together that eventually drew a penalty as Victor Rask served two in the box for slashing.
Los Angeles put a few passing sequences together and eventually connected successfully off a faceoff to Ward’s right.
Kopitar’s second of the game made it through traffic and between the keeper’s pads, and cut the Hurricanes lead to 4-3.
With time running down, Jordan Staal took a penalty for closing his hand on the puck with 18.4 seconds.
It was a potentially costly act of desperation to clear the puck as the Kings had pulled Enroth for the extra attacker.
Fortunately for Staal and Carolina, LA was unable to tie the game as the two teams split their season series with a win apiece.
Hanifin’s thoughts echoed many of the 10,154 watching who witnessed it all play out.
“It’s a pretty big relief,” Hanifin said.
“In these types of games, momentum’s huge. We’ve had a lot of close games recently, but we haven’t been able to get the win. Today we played a really big, heavy team in LA and we got a huge win. I think we’re pretty pumped about it and we’re gonna try to carry it into tomorrow.”