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Game Analysis: Hurricanes Keep Rolling, Get First Road Win

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The Carolina Hurricanes improved to 3-6-2 by earning their third straight — and first on the road — with a 4-2 victory Tuesday in Columbus.

Justin Faulk has turned his game around and was Carolina’s best player Tuesday vs. Columbus.
Justin Faulk has turned his game around and was Carolina’s best player Tuesday vs. Columbus.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina won its third-straight game by topping a division foe with a 4-2 win over Columbus.

Three Observations

1. The Hurricanes needed to win the goaltender battle the previous two games, and they did thanks to Cam Ward. Tuesday in Columbus, they figured to have the advantage with Ward facing journeyman Curtis McElhinney — and they did. McElhinney struggled, and Ward— while making several good stops along the way — didn't need to be the sole savior with Carolina outshooting the Blue Jackets 37-19 in earning Ward and the team a third-straight win.

2. As if Jack Johnson wasn't already public enemy No. 1 in Raleigh, he didn't do himself any favors with Caniac nation with his questionable hit on Jiri Tlusty. Johnson has no blemishes on his record with the NHL, but it's not his first foray into cheap shots. Just ask Steve Downie about Johnson’s willingness to go headhunting.

3. Yes, the Hurricanes are just 3-6-2, but they are actually now ahead of where everyone expected them to be this season. A look at the standings says as much: with the win over Columbus, Carolina moved ahead of the Blue Jackets and out of the Metropolitan Division basement. Both team have eight points, but the Hurricanes have played one fewer game. The two teams meet again Friday at PNC Arena. It's a small, but positive, step after the team’s dreadful start.

Number To Know

12 — Shots on goal for the line of Victor Rask (five), Zach Boychuk (five) and Chris Terry (two), with Boychuk opening the scoring. All three players have now scored in the past two games.

Plus

Justin Faulk — Carolina’s defense has been long-questioned, but one piece that pretty much everyone can agree is a cornerstone is Faulk. It took Faulk a good nine or 10 games to find his rhythm, but now that he has it he is reaffirming what many believed: he is a workhorse who can handle the game in all three zones. He did that Tuesday, playing a strong defensive game and scoring the game-winning goal on a shorthanded breakaway.

Minus

Jeff Skinner — Just like Alexander Semin, the Hurricanes need Skinner to score, and now he's at three straight games without a point. He had a couple chances in limited time — just 5:57 of even strength time — while playing with the fourth-line tandem of Jay McClement and Patrick Dwyer, but wasn't able to "pad his stats" *ahem* in 5:15 of power play time. Skinner needs to find a home among Carolina’s top six, or at least nine, and the team’s power play will also go as he does.