RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes extended their win streak to three games as they topped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 win at PNC Arena on Friday.
Victor Rask and Justin Faulk each scored their fourth goals of the season and Jeff Skinner tallied his second to lead the Carolina offense, while Alex Tanguay and Carl Soderberg scored for the Avalanche.
It was a game that was decided in favor of the team that made the least mistakes as time, space and quality shots were hard to come by with Carolina’s Cam Ward and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov tending the nets.
Ward made 30 saves to post his fourth win of the season, while Varlamov stopped 23 pucks in the losing effort.
Carolina claimed its second win in the teams’ two-game season series, following up on a 1-0 overtime win at the Pepsi Center back on Oct. 21.
“Through 40 minutes I thought we were dangerous offensively,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
Following a scoreless first period, Colorado got on the board first as Tanguay got his stick on a loose puck in front of the Carolina net at 6:49 in the second.
Tanguay reacted first while being covered by Hurricanes rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin, and was able to tuck Mikhail Grigorenko’s deflected shot attempt into the net past Ward as Colorado assumed a 1-0 lead.
Carolina took advantage of a Colorado line change as Ryan Murphy moved the puck to Kris Versteeg who gained the zone before zipping a pass into the crease where Rask redirected the puck past Varlamov and tied the game at the 12-minute mark.
Carolina claimed the lead, 2-1, at 14:54 when Faulk scored on the power play with a point shot that made it through traffic off a play initiated by Versteeg and Murphy.
Skinner extended the Hurricanes’ advantage to two goals, scoring the eventual game-winner at 5:07 in the third, .
The Carolina forward’s wrist shot caught the inside post as the Avalanche keeper was screened with the presence of Riley Nash at the top of the crease.
“I was just tryin’ to get it through,” Skinner said.
“I know their D-man was on me and I sort of tried to back him off with a little bit of a fake and then I just tried to get it through to the net. Nasher did a great job of gettin’ in front of the goalie.”
Defenseman Brett Pesce earned an assist on the goal, his first career NHL point in making his debut in front of the home crowd of 9,345 in attendance.
Carolina continued to pressure the Avalanche defense as the midpoint of the final period approached.
As time in the game continued to run down for Colorado, Ward held strong in his crease as a backhand attempt from Jarome Iginla was denied with the Hurricanes still leading by two.
Colorado pulled Varlamov for the extra skater with more than two minutes remaining, and were eventually able to cut into Carolina’s lead.
Soderberg tucked away a loose puck following a scramble in Ward’s crease and the Avalanche trailed 3-2 with 32 seconds remaining
Though Colorado continued to pressure until the final seconds counted down, the Hurricanes held on for the win.
“It shows the composure amongst the guys,” Ward said.
“You need your leaders to lead when you get down, especially in a low-scoring game. You gotta just be ready for that next shift and the guys did that.”
Notes: In playing his 100th career NHL game, Murphy’s two second-period assists were his third and fourth of the season and leads all Hurricanes blueliners in that category…Versteeg’s two assists, his fifth and sixth of the season leads the team. Earning the fire helmet for his performance against the Avs, he’s currently tied with Faulk for the team lead in points (7)….Forward Elias Lindholm suffered a lower-body injury during the first period and did not return to play after initially trying to do so.