Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask scored to push Carolina past Nashville, 2-1, at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
1. With the Predators being an average-at-best special teams squad and ferocious 5-on-5 team, one would have figured Carolina would need to win the special teams battle in order to upset them. Instead, Carolina scored first (on Skinner’s redirection of an Andrej Nestrasil pass) and never really looked back. Most of the Canes’ scoring struggles can be sourced at their even-strength play, so getting two five-a-side goals against one the league’s stingiest defenses and goalies has to help in the confidence department.
2. Michal Jordan continues to play well, if unspectactularly, since his recall, raising more questions about the future of Carolina’s defense. The Hurricanes would love to keep Andrej Sekera, who will be tough not to shop at the deadline if the Canes are out of the playoff hunt due to the nice return he should command. But beyond Justin Faulk, anything is possible on the Carolina D. Ron Hainsey continues to look shaky with anyone not named Brett Bellemore. John-Michael Liles has performed well in recent games, but the team would love to get out from under his inflated contract. Jay Harrison has spent time in the press box of late, while Tim Gleason — who has been much improved this year — is on just a one-year deal. Could Jordan fit into the team’s plans for next year and beyond? When will Ryan Murphy and Haydn Fleury be ready to fill major roles? Tuesday everyone pitched in to insulate Cam Ward, who didn't have to stand on his head to earn a win. Competition is always good, but Ron Francis has some big decisions coming regarding his blue line.
3. Good lord, Olli Jokinen.
Number To Know
2 — Points for Skinner in the first game of December. Skinner has had rough Decemebers throughout his career due to both injuries and struggles. That is until last year, when he registered 12 goals and four assists in 15 games, including five power play tallies. He and the team are hoping his two-point start to the month will put Skinner on a similar path to last December.
Jeff Skinner — Skinner was Carolina’s most dangerous player, taking advantage of the opportunities he had against Nashville’s bottom two pairings though not backing down from the top duo of Shea Weber and Roman Josi when facing them. His sixth goals and seventh assist on the season were his first points since Nov. 22, and continued his career-long success against the Predators. Also, see above.
Alexander Semin — Semin still isn't producing. After spending extra time in the warm-ups shooting on Anton Khudobin — the duo were the last two off the ice — Semin reverted to the dangle or pass-first mentality that has marked much of his early season slump. It's no doubt good to see Semin putting in the work before the game, and his one shot attempt on the night, which was blocked, came on his first shift of the game. Now Semin needs to dedicate himself to sticking to that shoot-first mentality for an entire game. Getting some power play time, which coach Bill Peters has stripped Semin of, would probably help, too.