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McElhinney, Hurricanes shut out the Stars in Jordan Staal’s return to the lineup

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Staal and the Canes put together another complete effort in front of McElhinney on Saturday.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A quick two-game road swing for the Carolina Hurricanes started on the right side of a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers, and their second act was even better.

The Hurricanes kept on rolling in their late-afternoon date with the Dallas Stars on Saturday, beating the Western Conference playoff hopefuls by a final score of 3-0. And they did it with a familiar face back in the lineup.

Jordan Staal’s first shift since December was spent entirely in the offensive zone, which was very on brand. He went on to have a very solid, Staal-esque game in his return to the lineup.

Not too long after Staal’s first shift, the Hurricanes broke the ice. Warren Foegele chipped the puck up to his linemate Greg McKegg, and it was Lucas Wallmark who threw a one-timer off of the defenseman in front and right by Ben Bishop to make it 1-0.

The remainder of the first period was largely just a grind-fest. Neither team gave up much in the way of high-quality opportunities and both goalies handled their sparse work without much of any issue. Shots were 6-4 in favor of the Canes after 20 minutes.

A late first-period power play for Carolina carried over into the second period. Just over a minute into the middle frame, Dallas took another penalty and gave the Canes a short 5-on-3 opportunity. The road came through with a big goal.

Sebastian Aho circled the puck out to Justin Faulk, and the up-and-down blueliner unleashed a laser of a wrist shot that beat Bishop and extended the Canes’ lead to two.

It was Faulk’s second goal in as many games, both of which were scored off of a wrist shot on the a man advantage.

The second period saw the ice really open up for some offense, and though the Canes had a lofty shot advantage through the frame, it was the Stars who were getting the scoring chances.

Curtis McElhinney came up with a handful of key saves, and Jaccob Slavin had a vintage Slavin period, which included this huge series of defensive plays:

Slavin did take a penalty in the second, but the Canes were able to kill it off. Through 40 minutes, Carolina held onto their 2-0 lead at American Airlines Center.

The Stars put together a bigger push in the final frame. For the first time all night, the shot clock trended in the home team’s direction, as well, as they more than doubled their shot tally from the first two periods.

Down the stretch, McElhinney really got tested, and he was nothing short of excellent. There were a number of little breakdowns in coverage, but the veteran back stop took care of business and, per usual, looked as cool as can be in the process.

Nothing changed as the third period eventually came to a close. The Canes didn’t allow the Stars to get on the board and they were much stronger with the lead than they were against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Dallas pulled Bishop for the extra attacker late in the third, and a defensive zone faceoff win from Jordan Staal led to Jordan Martinook’s long-range ENG that put an exclamation mark on a two-for-two road trip.

With the 3-0 win, the Hurricanes have won ten of their last 13 games and have picked up four shutout wins in their last ten games. Since December 31, the Canes are a league-best 18-6-1.

For the time being, Carolina is right back in a playoff spot. They’ll now come home and prepare for their Tuesday-night matchup against the bottom-dwelling Los Angeles Kings.