RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes still have a fighting chance at making the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Why? They haven't stopped fighting.
Facing one of the NHL's best teams Wednesday, the Hurricanes turned back the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 at the RBC Center to pull within two points of the New York Rangers -- and playoff position -- in the NHL's Eastern Conference.
Cam Ward was brilliant in goal, stopping 42 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, and Jeff Skinner added to an already brilliant rookie season by scoring his 30th goal. Derek Joslin's power-play goal in the second period, the defenseman's first with the Hurricanes, gave Carolina the lead and Erik Cole's score early in the third made it 3-0 and was a back-breaker for the Wings.
Cole scored just seconds after the Hurricanes killed off a double-minor against rookie forward Drayson Bowman for high-sticking, as captain Eric Staal earned his third assist of the game.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Hurricanes (39-30-11) have 89 points. The Rangers, eighth in the East with 91, have a home game Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers, the team that will host the Canes on Friday in Atlanta.
"Up to this point, no team has done us any favors," Joslin said. "If we can get two more wins we definitely give ourselves a shot at making the playoffs.
"I know the Rangers are peeking over their shoulders, especially after a big win tonight against a team like that. Maybe they'll be gripping their sticks a little tight."
The Hurricanes were a little tight in the first period, Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. But Ward was there, ever reliable, turning back 18 shots including a point-blank attempt by veteran Mike Modano.
"He was just on," Maurice said of Ward. "Even the scrums that the puck got loose you knew he was coming up with it. You could just feel it from the bench."
Joslin, traded to the Canes from the San Jose Sharks in February, scored at 4:04 of the second period. It came after Skinner, bullish and aggressive around the net all game, forced a holding penalty on the Wings' Justin Abdelkader.
Skinner then made it 2-0 with 1:13 left in the period. Grabbing the rebound of a Staal shot, he beat Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with a quick wraparound as the crowd of 17,602 thundered.
Skinner became the second rookie in franchise history to score 30 -- Sylvain Turgeon scored 40 in 1983-1984. At 18 years, 325 days old, Skinner is the seventh-youngest player in NHL history to do it.
But it wasn't over. The Wings (46-24-10) had put 29 shots on net in the first two periods, and when Bowman was called for high-sticking at 1:36 of the third, the NHL's fourth-best power-play team had four minutes of power-play time.
But the Canes' penalty killers did their job, as did Ward, earning a standing ovation. It also was a relief for Bowman.
"The penalty kill came through great," Bowman said, smiling. "That was great to see and built momentum."
Cole took it from there, rifling a shot past Howard from the right circle for his 25th goal at 5:44.
"That's a huge momentum-buster," said Ward, who picked up his 16th career shutout. "And then (to) score immediately after definitely got this place going and got our team going."
Maurice could smile and joke about Bowman's high-sticking call after the game, saying if the Wings had scored, "We'd probably lose a forward there because Drayson probably would have snuck out the back door and not come back to the bench."
But the Wings didn't score -- on the power play or in the game. Maurice said the third period was his team's best.
After a bitterly disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, the Hurricanes were downcast. So much seemed to be have been lost in one game.
But Maurice gathered the players Monday for a meeting, then a team meal. Stay positive, the coach said. Keep working. Beat the Wings, then go from there.
"We feel like we're playing great hockey," Staal said. "We've competed our butts off all season long to have an opportunity to make the playoffs and be there."
The Canes responded with a big win Wednesday. There's little time but there's still hope.
"I'm really proud of the mental toughness to come back and beat a team like Detroit," Maurice said. "That's a pretty resilient group."
1. Cam Ward, Carolina. His 42 saves results fourth shutout of season.
2. Eric Staal, Carolina. Captain has assists on all three goals.
3. Derek Joslin, Carolina. Defenseman scores first goal for Carolina.
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