By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – It seemed that both the Carolina Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues were offensively tapped out when the two teams met at PNC Arena on Friday.
The end result, a 2-1 win for the Blues, came about following previous games in which both squads won by maximizing their individual-game scoring output of the season.
A hard-fought, low-scoring result wasn’t surprising on this night.
Dmitrij Jaskin and Brayden Schenn tallied goals for the Blues, while goaltender Carter Hutton made 26 saves to claim the win.
On the other side of the score sheet, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner posted the lone marker, his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
In making only his second start of the season since a 5-3 win over Edmonton on Oct. 17, Cam Ward’s 32-save finish in suffering the loss couldn’t be faulted as part of an overall energetic team effort that concluded a back-to-back set and the the Hurricanes’ third game in four days.
“I thought he was real good,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said of his netminder.
“I thought he was real subtle in around the net too. He cut off a lot of plays with his stick. I thought he was solid and gave us a chance.”
The Blues, 5-2 winners at Calgary on Wednesday, had some rest while on their current road swing before facing off against the Hurricanes, 6-3 winners over the Maple Leafs the previous night in Toronto.
Neither team gave up much time or space to one another and Hutton and Ward kept themselves in position long enough to make stops, but eventually succumbed to in-close plays that saw the puck deposited into the net behind them.
Jaskin scored his first of the season for the Blues at the 14:38 mark of the second period.
He got his chance off a rebound following a point shot from Magnus Paajarvi and tip-in attempt from Oskar Sundqvist that Ward stopped with his pad.
The big rebound and open net was impossible for the forward to miss and gave the Blues the 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Hurricanes to respond as Justin Williams intercepted a pass intended for St. Louis winger Alex Steen in the neutral zone.
Streaking into the Blues zone with Skinner to his left, Williams waited out Joel Edmundson long enough before attempting a spinning deke that resulted in the puck leaving his stick while falling over the defenseman.
“I ran out of options really,” Williams said.
“I wanted to pass first, then he took it away, and then I wanted to shoot; then I wanted to toe-drag and at the last minute I figured I’d get it over.”
With the puck sliding in the low slot, Skinner put a high backhand shot over Hutton’s shoulder and evened the score at 15:42.
Schenn gave St. Louis the lead back midway through the third when he found a wide-open net following a pad save by Ward with traffic in front.
It was the eventual winning result as part of a game that presented 139 shot attempts between both teams as well as 31 takeaways and 17 giveaways – 13 of which the Hurricanes committed.
Call it a game of inches as the puck rebounded off bodies, and the glass and boards all night.
Eventually, the team that got the right bounce and finished the play when needed skated away with two points.
It was a result that the Hurricanes will need to look back on in order to get better according to Williams.
“We need to learn, and we haven’t done it yet – to win 1-0 or win 2-1.
“We haven’t won those games yet.”
Notables: Ward passed Adam Burt (626) for seventh on Carolina’s all-time games played list. Ward is 296-231-80 with a 2.70 goals-against average, .909 save-percentage, and 25 shutouts in 627 NHL/Hurricanes games. Among active NHL goaltenders, Ward ranks fifth in all-time games played… Carolina was 0-for-1 on the power play and is 5-for-32 (15.6%) on the man-advantage this season. The Hurricanes were 0-for-0 on the penalty kill and are 16-for-20 (80.0%) on the kill this season…Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen was injured during the second period and did not return due to an upper-body injury.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport