It may not have been the most artistic of wins, but for the Carolina Hurricanes, artistry doesn't count for much as the season comes to an end.
Behind a two-point night from Jordan Staal and 21 saves from Cam Ward, the Canes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena.
Staal, whose last goal before Saturday came the previous time the Canes and Flyers faced off in late February, said that a bit of sibling rivalry factored into his decision to pass rather than shoot on the 2-on-1 that led to his goal. "I figured Eric had enough. I wanted to get one," he told the media.
Perhaps that was the reason he turned in a first-star performance. It was his initial shot that resulted in Elias Lindholm cleaning up a rebound nine minutes into the game, the Canes' first even-strength goal since last Tuesday in Washington. Staal stole the puck from Nicklas Grossman early in the second to double the lead, before Sean Couturier pulled the Flyers back within one on the power play at 9:46.
Alexander Semin could have restored the two-goal lead, but passed right into Grossmann's stick while trying to feed Jeff Skinner late in the second period. Despite that missed opportunity, plus giving up the tying goal with less than two minutes to play in the game, Ward said that the mood on the bench was still upbeat. "It's never easy when you get scored on late, but I didn't sense any panic," he said. "It was a good mental test for the guys."
Goals by Nathan Gerbe, who put a circus move on Flyers goaltender Ray Emery, and Chris Terry, plus a pair of timely saves by Ward including doing a split to deny Jakub Voracek, were enough for Ward to earn his second shootout win of the season.
Although Ward now holds a 3-0 record against the Flyers this season, he was quick to deflect praise to his teammates. "I never really look at it like I've won three games against them. We've played well as a team against them, and that's a credit to the guys. Knowing that it was a hand-off-your-jersey night, it was important for everyone to get in a good mood and put in a good effort." Mission accomplished, in the Canes' first victory in a jersey giveaway game since 2007.
Bill Peters, who made the mistake of driving to Charlotte on a Friday afternoon to see the Checkers last night, was succinct in his praise of the Staals and Lindholm. "That line was good, eh?" But there was more to it than that familiar combination. "I thought we were playing well, especially in overtime," Peters said. "I thought we were in total control. I didn't think we sagged all that much."
Peters said that the weeklong road trip, before returning home for the season finale next Saturday, is one of opportunity for guys who might be on the bubble to be members of the Hurricanes next season. "We're paying attention, for sure. We have to. We have to make changes going into next year."