The Carolina Hurricanes avoided a shootout by scoring in the final minute of overtime to top Columbus Friday at PNC Arena, but the Capitals gave the Canes a taste of their own medicine with an overtime game-winner with 14 seconds left the next night.
1. Cam Ward continues to stake his claim to the No. 1 job ahead of Anton Khudobin. Ward won his fourth straight start Friday — the first time he's done that in a long time — while Khudobin stayed winless. Not many expected things to go this way, with Khudobin the heavy favorite after a strong showing last season and Ward seemingly as likely to be bought out as reclaim the top job. Ward's overall numbers are still pedestrian — 4-3-1, 2.72 goals-against average and .894 save percentage — but his last four games have been stellar and the best Ward has looked in some time.
2. Alexander Semin has looked better, but Carolina's top trio of him, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty is till yet to truly click like they did in 2012-13. Coach Bill Peters has jumbled his lines frequently of late, including teaming up his three most dangerous players — Staal, Semin and Jeff Skinner — to try to ignite the offense. It worked Saturday, with Skinner setting up Staal"s goal that pulled Carolina within one and kicked off the comeback‚ but the team can ill afford to put all its eggs in one basket.
3. Victor Rask and Riley Nash continue to jockey for the right to be Carolina's No. 3 center once Jordan Staal returns. Both have been great: they excel at faceoffs, play a defensively responsible game, and are strong enough to handle big opposing forwards. That means it might come down to scoring. Right now, Nash leads the team with 10 points, but Rask has all four of his NHL points in the past four games. The heated competition is nothing but good news for the Canes.
Number To Know
17 — Shot attempts for Justin Faulk in the back-to-back set. Faulk had seven shots on goal and one missed shot vs. Columbus, and finished with four shots, three attempts blocked and two missed shots at Washington. Faulk's seven shots Friday were the third time in his career — and this calendar year — he has registered that many on net, but he has never scored in any of those games and has just one assist.
Elias Lindholm — After a rookie season of adjusting to the North American game, Lindholm finally seems to be fulfilling his promise. Lindholm's eight points rank tied for second on the Hurricanes and has seven of those during his active five-game point streak. Lindholm is also tied for first in the league with three others with three game-winning goals, including the overtime tally against the Blue Jackets.
Brett Bellemore — Bellemore nearly cost Carolina the game Friday against Columbus, taking two penalties — including one in the final minutes of a tie game — and looking out of sorts most of the night. He was better Saturday, but Peters still played him just two shifts in the third period with the team looking to overcome a two-goal deficit, and he was on the bench for the entirety of both overtime periods.