By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The scoring came in bunches, but a few of the goals scored at PNC Arena on Thursday were just plain ugly.
Both teams were culpable in this late-season shinny matchup as the Carolina Hurricanes (32-31-11) posted a 6-5 win over the Arizona Coyotes (25-38-11).
Jeff Skinners’ two goals and an assist along with Valentin Zykov’s two goals and singles from Phil Di Giuseppe and Teuvo Teravainen were enough to end a recent four-game losing streak at home.
Arizona countered with two goals from Alex Goligoski, and singles from Clayton Keller, Josh Archibald, and Nick Cousins.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward’s 28 saves earned him his 20th win of the season while opposing netminder Darcy Kuemper made 24 stops in the losing effort for the Coyotes.
“The game works in funny ways sometimes,” Ward pointed out.
“There’s been games where you play really well, and you lose; and you don’t play well, and you win. Sometimes the game just works out that way.”
Many in the announced crowd of 10,535 were impressed by some nicely orchestrated sequences – specifically Zykov’s wrister that ended up in the top corner over Kuemper’s trapper.
The Russian forward’s first NHL goal of the season put Carolina ahead 2-0 at 4:55, following Skinner’s game-opening marker in the first minute of play.
It’s no wonder Zykov’s the current goals leaders in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Charlotte Checkers as he surgically finished the set-up from DiGiuseppe and Elias Lindholm.
Then there was the head-scratcher that many might have missed sipping their beers as the puck became wedged in the plastic molding of Ward’s right skate blade and eventually crossed the plane of the goal line while he swept his leg and pad into the net looking for it.
The referee lost sight of it, and rather than stopping play immediately, he let everyone skate around long enough to warrant a video review and ruled it a goal.
“I mean what can you do? The puck gets stuck in your skate and I didn’t know where it was, and it goes in,” Ward said.
“I can sit here and pretend like it didn’t bother me, but it did bother me. You battle all season long, you compete, and a bounce like that happens. It doesn’t seem fair at the time.”
The game which Arizona coach Rick Tocchet described as “ugly, and “wasn’t a goaltending battle” as Ward accurately described it continued on.
The puck continued to cross the goal line at both ends.
“I think it affected everyone to be honest with you,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said of the phantom skate-blade goal that was credited to Goligoski.
“I think its one of those where you just shake your head and thinking what else, what’s next?”
With 22 seconds remaining, Arizona tied it 2-2 on Keller’s crease clean-up effort, even with Joakim Nordstrom close by.
It went like that the rest of the way as both teams traded goals and the lead, back and forth, throughout the second period.
The Coyotes led 5-4 heading into the third period following Goligoski’s second of the game, 11 seconds before the intermission.
The final period was all Carolina, outscoring Arizona by a 2-0 margin to eventually post the win.
Zykov’s second at 9:46 tied it all up once again at five goals a side.
The shoveled-in marker was a product of the bullish effort he exhibited to score again in only his second NHL game played this season.
“I just saw Jaacob with the puck on the blue line, and he was going like he wants to put it on the net,” Zykov said.
“I just get in front, and the rest you know.”
Skinner’s 22nd goal of the season came with 1:58 remaining, a goal that allowed this struggling team to finally shine a brighter light on its effort.
“Good to see them get rewarded,” Peters said.
“Good to see them doin’ it right. The game-winner, that’s a real good entry. I think when you do things right, you get rewarded more often, than not. There were some good things here tonight.”
All-in-all, lots of goals were scored and it was another goaltender’s nightmare.
However, it was one that eventually resulted in a happy ending for Carolina.
“It’s certainly nice to walk out of it with a win,” Ward concluded.
“It definitely has been tough mentally for this team as of late, so we’ll try to build off of it and me, I’ll try to forget about it and get ready for the next start.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport