It took four opportunities for the Carolina Hurricanes to finally secure a win in the shootout. Now 13-0-2 in their last 15 games at home against the Senators, the Hurricanes are only 4 points out of a wild card position.
Mark Stone opened up the scoring in the first period. The goal came off of bad communication between Cam Ward and his teammates as he left the puck in the trapezoid only to have it picked up by Scott Gomez. Gomez left it for Stone and wrapped it in for a 1-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, Brenden Woods dropped the gloves with Chris Neil in his first NHL appearance after being called up from the Charlotte Checkers.
"We were down 1-0 and I felt like I needed to do something, Woods said. "It’s a part of my game."
The Hurricanes didn’t carry much momentum the rest of the period getting heavily outshot 6-12 spending most of the time in their defensive zone.
To end the period, Bobby Ryan made his way behind the Hurricanes net and fed a backhand pass to an open Ryan Dzingel to make it 2-0 with 28 seconds remaining in the period.
Whatever Bill Peters’ "firm" message to the team was in the first intermission got them firing on all cylinders the next 20 minutes. Just under two minutes into the period, Jeff Skinner led a rush down the ice that resulted in Skinner finding the rebound to cut the lead in half.
With Brad Malone in the penalty box, Jay McClement didn’t waste an opportunity to fight to the net. He took the puck at center ice and made a power move to the net while protecting the puck to put it past Andrew Hammond for McClement’s second goal of the season and the Hurricanes’ third short handed goal of the season. McClement currently leads Carolina forwards in shorthanded ice time this season.
However, for the second time in the game the Hurricanes would find themselves down a goal going into the third period. With only 35 seconds left, Zack Smith worked his way around Noah Hanifin and put it five-hole on Cam Ward to put the Senators up 3-2.
The Hurricanes were able to generate many scoring chances in the second period including Victor Rask leaving a mark on the crossbar trying to elevate the puck over Hammond’s pad.
It wasn’t as easy for the Hurricanes to find the momentum early into the third period. It seemed like players were more focused on Dion Phaneuf’s antics getting into minor scraps with Phil Di Giuseppe and Joakim Nordstrom.
But the night wouldn’t end, as karma seemed to be in the Hurricanes’ favor despite the late goals by Senators in both periods. Skinner once again found himself in the right spot as he blasted home a shot from the slot with only .3 seconds left in regulation.
"He’s got an elite scoring touch there’s no question," Jordan Staal said "He seems to find the puck a lot around the net."
Overtime wasn’t a success although both teams generated good chances including an Erik Karlsson breakaway shot that missed the net high.
Skinner and Chris Terry both missed their opportunities in the shootout as Mika Zibanejad put the pressure on. Riley Nash made a – as Peters put it – "clutch" shot to keep the shootout going. As Mark Stone missed his opportunity, Jaccob Slavin had the opportunity to put the pressure on Zack Smith and did just that.
"It’s my go-to move and I’ve done it my whole life," Slavin said. "It’s worked a couple times for me in the past and I just figured I’d give it a shot."
Peters credited the team and their ability to stick with it after a lackluster first period and it seemed to take over from there.
"I think over the last 45 minutes we only gave up 12 shots", Peters said. "So the guys dug in and that’s a good sign moving forward that you can start a game without having your A-game, build it, and find a way to win."
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