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Game Analysis: Flames At Hurricanes

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Carolina bounced back from a rough outing vs. the Rangers with a convincing 5-2 win Sunday over the visiting Calgary.

Joakim Nordstrom was arguably Carolina’s best forward Sunday, and he was rewarded with a third period goal in the Hurricanes’ 5-2 win over the Flames.
Joakim Nordstrom was arguably Carolina’s best forward Sunday, and he was rewarded with a third period goal in the Hurricanes’ 5-2 win over the Flames.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Versteeg scored twice and Eddie Lack made 33 stops to lead Carolina to a 5-2 win Sunday over Calgary. Carolina’s three Swedish forwards — Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom — also scored for the Hurricanes.

Three Observations

1. Lack performed well again in net, stopping 33 of 35 shots in improving to 7-3-2 since his Dec. 11 win in Anaheim (more on this below). He should get the call again Tuesday at home against the Blackhawks, a team he beat Dec. 27 when he made 35 saves in a 2-1 win in Chicago.

2. With five goals Sunday, Carolina managed to score more in one game than they had in the previous four outings combined. Since a 4-1 win in St. Louis Jan. 14, the Hurricanes managed just four goals in the next four games, including one in overtime when they beat Toronto 1-0.

3. Versteeg was a worthy first star Sunday, getting his first two-goal game since joining the Hurricanes. He has quietly moved into second on the team in scoring with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) despite logging just 16:30 a night. Versteeg was the beneficiary of a nice Eric Staal feed on a 2-on-1 rush to give the Canes a 3-0 lead early in the second period, and he then got his second power play goal of the season by jamming a puck through the pads of Jonas Hiller — who had replaced starter Karri Ramo after Versteeg's first goal — to re-establish Carolina's two-goal lead with less than nine minutes remaining in the game.

Number To Know

2 — Power play goals allowed by Lack in the last 12 games, starting with his win in Anaheim on Dec. 11. Carolina’s penalty kill struggled early in the season but has returned to 2014-15 form (when they finished the season fourth on the PK at 84.7 percent) and now ranks 11th in the NHL at 82 percent.

Plus

Joakim Nordstrom — Versteeg had the two goals, but Nordstrom arguably made the biggest impact on the game. Nordstrom scored for the second consecutive game and could have had more — a linesman cost him a breakaway earlier in the game when the puck got caught up in the official’s skates, leading to Nordstrom slamming his stick and having a few choice words as he skated to the bench moments later. But Nordstrom persevered and was a key part of 5-for-5 penalty kill, with the Flames managing only two shots on goal in 9:49 of power play time. He was rewarded in the third period with his fifth career NHL goal.

Minus

Michal Jordan — Jordan took two penalties, including a plain-as-day interference infraction early in the third period that helped the Flames continue their surge back into the game. Jordan saw just two full shifts after that, and with the Flames within one goal midway through the third the coaching staff opted to roll five defensemen rather than put him back on the ice. With the All Star break ahead, Carolina will be able to give Brett Pesce a good chunk of time to recover from his injury in the hopes he can return to the lineup. You can expect Bill Peters to shelter Jordan as much as he can Tuesday at home vs. Chicago.