By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – There was reason for excitement at PNC Arena on Saturday night as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 and moved into the final NHL Eastern Conference wildcard spot.
A 29-save performance from goaltender Cam Ward and back-to-back goals from Brock McGinn and a single from Jeff Skinner did the trick for the Hurricanes in front of an energized crowd of 15,589.
Just 18 seconds after Tyson Barrie put the Avalanche ahead 1-0 at the 16:51 mark of the first period, McGinn evened the score.
While Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves, Ward’s work maintained the Hurricanes’ momentum to keep plugging away, outshooting the Avs 35-30.
“When you get scored on, you wonder how the team is going to respond,” Ward said.
“We scored the next shift, so that cancels out that one and you’re able to start off fresh again.”
McGinn’s eventual game-winning goal came early in the third, 35 seconds in, and increased Colorado’s urgency to even the score.
The marker allowed the forward to reach the 10-goal plateau in a season for the first time in his career.
Skinner’s 16th goal of the season with 6:43 to play became the insurance goal Carolina needed to pick up its second win in as many nights.
“I liked the effort from everyone,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
” I thought everybody contributed. I thought it was a complete effort.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport