Game Analysis: Back-To-Backs Vs. Bruins, At Capitals

Cam Ward outdueled Vezina winner Tim Thomas Saturday night, then put in another good effort less than 24 hours later in a 2-1 loss to the Capitals. (Photo by Jamie Kellner)

The Carolina Hurricanes continued their run of good play, rallying to defeat the Bruins Saturday, 4-2, at the RBC Center, then facing the Capitals in Washington less than 20 hours later and outplaying their Southeast Division foe despite losing, 2-1.

The split moved Carolina to 16-24-7, good for 39 points and up to 13th in the Eastern Conference standings — ahead of the Islanders and Lightning who are both one point back of the Canes with five and three games in hand, respectively.

Three Observations

1. The return of Jeff Skinner to the lineup for Sunday's game in Washington was a huge addition to a team that was playing well even without their star sophomore. Skinner didn't do much the first two periods, but was arguably the best player on the ice in the third period as Carolina tried to rally from a third-period deficit. With Skinner back, there's still some questions as to how coach Kirk Muller should piece together his forward lines, but adding No. 53 is nothing but a positive.

2. The Bruins' end-the-game goonery in their loss at the RBC Center was, in a word, embarrassing. It's one thing to lose your cool during the course of a game, but Boston's ire didn't come out until the game was sealed following Eric Staal's empty net goal. From there, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara each took out their frustrations on the Canes, who are now 3-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It's one thing to be a "tough" team. It's another to be sore losers.

3. Jussi Jokinen finally snapped his goal drought Sunday, scoring Carolina's lone goal when he banged in a loose puck on the power play to tie the score late in the second period. It ended Jokinen's 25 games without a tally and was also just his second power play goal of the season. It's surely been a down year for Jokinen, who had 18 PPGs the last two years and now has just five goals total in 2011-12. With Skinner back, Muller may need to consider reuniting the Finns and Skins line to help build Jokinen's confidence.

Number To Know

40 — Recorded takeaways for Brandon Sutter, a total that leads the Hurricanes and ranks 11th in the NHL. He had 48 in 82 games last season and is on pace for nearly 70 in 2011-12, which would be the most by a Carolina player since the lockout.

Plus

Cam Ward — Ward is now 6-3-1 in his last 10 starts and has only allowed more than three goals once — five to Tampa Bay in New Year's Eve loss — during that stretch. He stopped 55 of the 59 shots he faced in the back-to-back games (.932 save percentage) and has not allowed more than one goal in a period in his last five starts.

Minus

Derek Joslin — If Joslin wants to find a way to be in Carolina's future plans, he's needs to up his physicality. He played both games of the back-to-back for the injured Jaroslav Spacek, but did not register a hit and blocked just one shot. He and partner Jamie McBain were also on the ice for both of the Capitals' goals Sunday in a 2-1 loss.

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