The Carolina Hurricanes are undefeated … at the PNC Arena at least. Cam Ward earned his 200th career victory and 20th career shutout after stopping 40 shots against the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues at the PNC Arena last night. Jeff Skinner scored his 20th goal of the season (the Canes’ first 20-goal scorer this season) and Chad LaRose notched his 15th of the season. The game was a tight-checking and defensively sound game for the first two periods, as both teams got solid chances, but Cam Ward and Brian Elliot were up to the task. The Blues outshot the Canes in every period (13-12 in the first, 12-7 in the second, 15-11 in the third), and out chanced the Canes throughout the first 40 minutes.
The Canes’ penalty kill was the story of the night, as they had to kill off two double-minors (a Chad LaRose high sticking double minor and an Eric Staal tripping/slashing call at the end of the second period). Hard work was done by several players on the penalty kill, notably Tim Gleason and Bryan Allen, who played more than 4 minutes each on the PK. Carolina got the scoring started in third period as newly called up Bobby Sanguinetti made a smart pinch in the zone to keep the puck in. Tim Brent then won a board battle and got it to Andreas Nodl and Nodl sent it back behind the Blues net where Chad LaRose did his best Eric Staal impersonation, doing a wraparound and the puck bounced off a Blues defenseman and behind Brian Elliot to give the Canes a 1-0 lead at 7:52 of the third. Cam Ward came up big on several opportunities by the Blues after LaRose scored, but the Canes kept their foot on the gas. About five minutes later, Jeff Skinner made a beautiful skate to stick pass eluding two Blues’ defenseman and wristed one past Elliot to give the home team a 2-0 lead. Cam Ward took over the rest of the way to win it for the Canes, who are 1-0 at newly named PNC Arena.
- Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison once again lead the team as far as ice time goes with 25:10 and 23:29 respectively. If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that Faulk and Harrison would be the defensive pairing that had the most ice time per game, I would have called you crazy.
- The Canes won in the face-off circle 54% to 46%. Chad LaRose (100%), Tim Brent (70%) and Brandon Sutter (62%) led the way for Carolina.
- Jeff Skinner was a beast last night. Being placed on the top line with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu in Jiri Tlusty’s absence did put a target on Skinner’s back, but he was able to respond with a goal, 6 shots on goal and a +1 for the night in 17:51 of ice time.
- Tuomo Ruutu, Justin Faulk and Chad LaRose had four hits each, as the Canes outhit the Blues 25-22.
The Canes head back out on the road for a back-to-back set this weekend against the Minnesota Wild and the Winnipeg Jets. Make sure to check back in for game previews! Make sure to check back tomorrow for a game preview! Until then, check us out on Facebook at CardiacCane. Also, be sure to follow Cardiac Cane writers at: @CardiacCaneFS, @Esbee92, @peacelovepuck, @caniaccaz and @caniac176