The Carolina Hurricanes started out strong, had a lull in the second period, but then came on strong again in the third to defeat the New York Rangers, 4-3 in front of 16,336 at the PNC Arena on Thursday night.
This was the first time that former captain Eric Staal had returned to the PNC after a trade deadline deal sent him to New York. The Hurricanes honored him with several tributes before and during the game. He almost got on the scoreboard early when he found himself all alone in front of Cam Ward in the first period, but his friend stopped him.
The Canes came out with all kinds of jump and were out-shooting the Rangers all period long. They ended up with a 13-4 advantage in the stanza. The home team was also able to get on the board first thanks to Patrick Brown's first career NHL goal.
Midway through the opening period, Jeff Skinner rifled a long pass that bounced off the end boards and ended up right on Brown's stick as he flashed into the zone. The young player, who was just recently recalled a game or two ago from Charlotte, burned Henrik Lundqvist with a laser shot. He later called Skinner's pass "world class".
While the first period belonged to Carolina, the second was owned by New York. The blue shirts had the puck for long periods of time in the Carolina zone and ended up scoring three times in the period.
They took a 2-1 lead when Mats Zuccarello scored off a perfect pass by Derek Stepan and Rick Nash bullied his way past Brett Pesce for a goal.
The Canes tied it 2-2, off a long seeing-eye shot by Justin Faulk, his 16th of the season. His goal tied him with Anton Babchuk for the franchise lead for most goals in one season for a Carolina defenseman.
The Rangers came right back and took the lead, 3-2 when Pesce had trouble with Chris Kreider, who beat him to a puck during a powerplay dump in and then beat Ward with a slick shot.
The home team would come back in the third period though.
Skinner tipped in a Ryan Murphy shot and Victor Rask knocked in the game-winner on what looked like the rebound of a Faulk shot from the point. No assist was awarded on the play.
Skinner's goal was his 27th of the season and Rask notched his 21st.
The Rangers put on a lot of pressure at the end but the Canes held on in this contest. Brown made another nice play at the end of the game and finished with a goal, an assist, and a team high +3. He was named the game's first star and wore the fireman's helmet and wrestling belt after the game.
Sergey Tolchinsky earned his first NHL assist on Faulk's goal, in his NHL debut.
Next up for Carolina will be a match at home against the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
- The Canes had a slight 28-27 advantage in shots on goal. Skinner and Faulk each had six to lead the way.
- Brett Pesce had a couple of tough plays against him but he led the team with four blocked shots and seemed to save a goal with one.
- The team won 56% of their faceoffs and were led by Jordan Staal with 64% and Derek Ryan with 60%.
- Faulk had a team high 22:08 of ice time. Jaccob Slavin was right behind with 21:47.
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