Cam Ward made 41 saves, then stopped all three attempts against him in the shootout to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland on Friday. After the Wild jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period, Tuomo Ruutu tied the game early in the second. Then after a scoreless third and overtime periods, rookie Jeff Skinner scored the lone goal in the shootout for the game winner.
Skinner also picked up his first career NHL point with a well earned assist on Ruutu's goal.
As expected, the Wild came out with more jump and determination in the first period and the Canes really needed their goalie to be on top of his game in order to stay close. Ward made 17 saves on 18 shots in the opening stanza.
In the second period, the Canes picked up their skating and created more chances in the Wild zone. Skinner was like a demon, harassing the Minnesota defense all night.
On the Canes scoring play, Skinner out-raced Wild goalie Nicklas Backstrom to a loose puck about 25 feet to the side of the net. The defense was able to collapse on the rookie, but he swiped the puck to Jussi Jokinen behind the net, and the Finn found his countryman, Ruutu out in front. Ruutu was knocked down on the play, but buried the puck anyway for the Canes only goal in regulation.
In the third period, the Hurricanes controlled play for the most part and held the Wild to just 4 shots on goal, but they could not get the puck past Backstrom, even though they had three powerplay chances, including a partial 5-on-3 chance.
Minnesota outshot the Canes 8-1 in overtime, but Ward was equal to the challenge.
Martin Havlat got behind the Hurricanes defense twice, including once in the extra frame, but Ward stopped him the first try and Havlat hit the post the next time, (with the help of a hard slash by Jamie McBain with just 7 seconds left.)
Skinner was the first shooter in the shootout. He put on a couple of moves and had Backstrom sprawled on the ice before roofing it over him. The other Carolina shooters, Jokinen and Ruutu missed on their chances.
Ward came up big against Mikko Koivu, Brent Burns, and Antti Miettinen.
Both teams will leave Finland and return to the states as soon as they get packed up after the game.
- Cam Ward made several top notch saves as the Wild were buzzing around the Carolina net off and on throughout the game. If the goalie can continue to play like this, the Canes will be in every game.
- Captain Eric Staal got frustrated and took two retaliation type penalties, (slashing), the first of which the Wild took advantage of with a goal.
- The team did worse in the faceoff circle than the previous night, (33%). Staal was 11 of 27, (41%), Jokinen was 7 of 13, (54%), Zac Dalpe was 3 of 6, (50%), and Brandon Sutter was an unbelievable, 1 of 19, (5%).
- This game was a bit more chippy than the debut and there were a couple of roughing penalties as well as fighting majors. Tom Kostopoulos dropped the gloves for the Canes and did well before being wrestled to the ice by Eric Nystrom.
- Tuomo Ruutu was credited with 7 hits. The team had 24.
- The Canes had a total of 37 shots on goal led by Staal with 7.
- After going 2 for 5 on the powerplay yesterday, the team was 0 for 5 today, for a total of 20%, (2 of 10).
Notes: Jeff Skinner is a just joy to watch and with a bit more upper body strength, could be a real force to be reckoned with On one play he tried to split two defensemen and drove to the net between them. On another, he skated behind the net and stole the puck from a defenseman who was setting up a play. Later on, he drew yet another penalty for his efforts, the second time he's done this in as many nights. It's hard to believe that he'll ever see junior hockey again.
The Canes are now 2-0 and will next face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
(The following is an up, close, and personal view of the Skinner shootout goal taken by CC member Raccoon Fink. Nice work!)