The Stanley Cup champions coming to town didn't seem much like a recipe for the Carolina Hurricanes to put together a winning streak for the first time this year, but then this has already been a strange, unpredictable season for the men of the Sightless Eye, so why not?
Behind a 30-save performance from Cam Ward, the Canes took advantage of an early jump and held on to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 in front of 10,519 at PNC Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Ward said his team answered the bell, both tonight and on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes. "We came out again really sharp and ready to play. Kudos to the guys in front of me. To have the defending Stanley Cup champions come into our building when we're playing back to back, to show the energy we had and to execute, it's a huge complement to the guys."
Ward's heroics saved the Canes late in the game when the skaters' legs in front of them were heavy and lethargic. But early in the game, it was the Canes who took the play to the visitors, who rested yesterday after suffering a 5-2 loss to the Red Wings on Friday. Victor Rask, centering a line of his former teammates from Charlotte, earned his first NHL goal late in the first period, his stick tipping a Chris Terry centering pass in from the far corner past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
The Canes doubled their lead less than a minute into the second period on a power play when Terry fired a one-timer from the top of the near circle off some pretty passing from Andrej Sekera and Elias Lindholm.
For Terry, a shot like that comes natural, and the coaching staff has encouraged him to use it. "Just shoot the puck like that," he said. "That's what I've done in Charlotte for a couple years, and I haven't changed my game when I've come up here. Be a responsible two-way player, and chip in offensively when I can."
Mike Richards drew the Kings closer with a power-play goal five minutes later, but Lindholm re-established the Canes' two-goal lead with the eventual game-winner, a laser shot from the same spot Terry had scored from ten minutes earlier that beat Quick cleanly.
Despite an Alec Martinez goal in the third and a late power play, the Kings couldn't put another past Ward, who flashed leather to deny his old friend Justin Williams halfway through the third period and has stopped 55 of the last 57 shots he has faced over the past two days.
Coach Bill Peters said his team's defensive structure has been sound the past few days, and he gives credit to the continuity of the roster, something that was in extremely short supply during the Canes' winless October.
"When you have the lack of continuity in the lineup, there's a lack of trust," said Peters. "That's what we had earlier. You're trying to do somebody else's job, so you don't trust that he's going to do his job, so you go duplicate and all of a sudden somebody's open and everybody looks bad. Now that the trust and the execution has increased, we look a little more organized."
Peters, never wavering in his message that the game gives a team the breaks that they earn, said that the hard work his team has shown the last two nights has paid dividends. "The game's fair. If you do good things consistently, you're going to get rewarded."
"You have to earn your breaks. We did that this weekend, and we have to continue to do that."
- Sunday's game was the third time this season the Canes have scored first. They have earned points in each of those three games, with the sole loss coming in a shootout to the Rangers on October 16.
- The Canes' penalty kill, much maligned to start the season, has been on fire recently. Even accounting for Richards' power play goal, the Canes have killed 22 of their last 25 penalties, dating back to the aforementioned game against the Rangers.
- Ward's shutout streak barely reached triple figures, ending at 100:33 with Richards' goal.
- The shots ended at 32 apiece, but the Canes put 27 shots on the board in the first two periods, including an 18-shot onslaught in the second period helped by three power plays.
- Postgame audio: Cam Ward , Justin Faulk , Chris Terry , Bill Peters
Flyingv2112 - 6
CanesHockeyFan - 6
JustListenen - 5
StickCheck - 5
Bgallen - 4
MinJaBen - 4
caniac233 - 3
brass bonanza - 3
Adrian Havill - 3
Bob - 2
Will_S13 - 2
sittler27 - 1
zambone - 1