RALEIGH — Cam Ward made the big stops in net, and Brandon Sutter netted the winner in overtime
And the rookie, Jeff Skinner, did his thing. Again.
The Carolina Hurricanes edged the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in overtime Friday, washing away some of the disappointment of a terrible outing against the Dallas Stars and ending a three-game losing streak at home.
Ward? He made 34 saves, many of them high quality, and was named the game's first star.
Sutter? It's been a tough season in terms of point production for the Canes' thin man, but he ripped a shot past Avs goalie Craig Anderson at 1:16 of overtime to give the Canes (11-11-3) the two points.
"It was fast and intense and kind of felt like a bit of a playoff atmosphere," Sutter said. "We came out a little slow and then got 'er going. We're excited about the way we played."
For a long time Friday, it appeared neither Ward nor Anderson, who had 28 saves, would allow a goal and that the game might go to a shootout scoreless.
"Wardo was real good for us, and their goalie made good saves," Skinner said. "I think we just seemed to stick with it. We've been in a couple of games like this, with Nashville and a little bit against Dallas - games where it's tough to come by [scoring] chances.
"I think you stick with it and stay mentally tough and try to generate chances from down low."
That, in fact, was a good description of Skinner's goal. The winger first got off a shot that Anderson warded off, only to have Canes center Tuomo Ruutu get to the puck behind the net and get it to Skinner.
The rest was equal parts skill, grit and determination by the league's top-scoring rookie. Skinner first tried to stuff the puck at the post, then quickly kicked the puck to his stick and flipped a backhander up and past Anderson at 4:50 of the third for a 1-0 lead.
"Ruutu made a great play, took the body and separated the puck from his guy," Skinner said. "I just tried to jam it at first. I then just tried to get it up top because [Anderson] was covering the bottom of the net pretty good."
Canes fans in the crowd of 16,277 were howling over Skinner's eighth goal of the season. But the Avs (13-9-3) fought back, tying the score 1-1 at 12:51 of the third as Milan Hejduk blistered a shot from the left wing past Ward.
The Avs' Kirk Shattenkirk had the primary assist on the Hejduk goal, giving him points in eight straight games. That set a franchise record for a rookie defenseman.
"They have a lot of skill, but we kept them to one goal, one of our best efforts of the year," Sutter said.
In overtime, defenseman Joni Pitkanen chipped the puck to Sutter, who played one of his strongest games of the season and whose line was flying, battling hard and effective from start to finish.
Sutter, slowed by an upper-body injury most of the season, had scored just four goals and one in his last 12 games. But he rocked Anderson this time.
"I had a step on the defenseman, kind of drove wide, looked up, saw the far side [of the net] and tried to shoot it there," Sutter said.
The Avs, averaging 3.46 goals a game, had the first 11 shots of the game. The Canes, coming off a three-day break since a dismal 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, were slow-starting but built momentum.
In the second period, the Canes had to kill off three consecutive penalties. But kill them they did, earning an appreciative cheer from the crowd, and they fed off it.
The Hurricanes had lost three shootouts in their past six games before coming out flat Monday against the Stars at the RBC Center. They now will play the next five games on the road but gave their fans something to cheer before leaving.
"To be successful, you have to win at home," Ward said. "Our fans created a great atmosphere. It's nice for us to be able to walk away with a win and everybody be happy."
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