The Carolina Hurricanes returned to the friendly confines of the PNC Arena in Raleigh on Friday night after a very tough road trip that saw the Canes get four out of a possible eight points against Western Conference opponents. While the Canes left a couple of points on the board with a pair of overtime losses to Edmonton and Calgary, the trip was capped off with a 3-1 win against Phoenix that gave Carolina 35 points in the standings.
The road trip tipped off in Vancouver as the Canucks were able to defensively frustrate the Hurricanes in a tightly contested battle. The Canes were shut down by stifling defense and rookie goaltender Eddie Lack was able to shut the Canes out for a 2-0 decision. While the offensive chances were there for the Canes, the lack of potency on the power play was a big problem yet again. Carolina went 0-4 with the man advantage in the game.
Next was Edmonton, where the Oilers came out firing on all cylinders early. Edmonton jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, only to see the Canes storm back with three unanswered goals to tie the game at four. Canes defenseman Justin Faulk took a boarding penalty early on in the extra period and the Oilers were able to score on the man advantage to earn the extra point in a high scoring affair.
In Calgary, Jeff Skinner was able to keep his torrid pace going as he scored the equalizer for the Canes late to tie the game at one. He was also hooked on a breakaway but his penalty shot with five minutes to play in regulation was stopped and for the second time in as many nights, the Canes would head to overtime. There were chances back and forth, but Calgary was able to get a deflection in front of goaltender Justin Peters with just three seconds remaining and the Flames won 2-1.
Skinner’s goal in Phoenix, his 9th in eight games, would prove to be the game winner for the Canes as Eric Staal added an empty netter to seal a 3-1 win in the desert. After losing two very winnable games in Edmonton and Calgary, it was good to see Carolina come away with two points against a very strong opponent at the end of a long road trip.
Justin Peters started three of the four games in net for the Canes and gave up five total goals, but only came away with the win in Phoenix. Cam Ward started against the Oilers and looked shaky early on, but the offense helped earn the point for Carolina despite the poor defensive and goaltending efforts.
The Canes look to start another winning streak as they take on the red hot Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on Friday night. The Hurricanes are chasing the Caps in the standings right now, and sit in third place in the Metropolitan division, only four back of Washington. The Canes are definitely benefiting from a weak division, but they do currently hold a playoff spot. With rumors of potential trades swirling around the team, the Canes need to stay focused and keep the course if they wish to play post-season hockey this year.