Canes get first win of season, 2-1 over Flyers

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 6, 2013 

— With the final minutes ticking down Sunday and the Carolina Hurricanes trying to hold onto a one-goal lead in the third period, Jeff Skinner said not much was said on the home team’s bench.

“I don’t think anyone had to say it,” Skinner said.

Many in PNC Arena had to be thinking back to Carolina's season-opener Friday at PNC Arena, when Canes played well against Detroit but couldn't protect a lead in the third period. The Red Wings tied the score in the final seconds of regulation and then won in overtime.

The Hurricanes seemed determined Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers would be different, and it was. This time, the Canes made the plays and won 2-1, getting goals from forward Radek Dvorak and defenseman Jay Harrison while picking up their first victory of the season and making goalie Anton Khudobin a winner in his first appearance for Carolina.

“You just need to bear down,” Skinner said. “The league is the best league in the world for a reason. There are a lot of one-goal games and you’ve got to able to finish them out.”

In Friday’s game, the Wings pulled their goalie for a sixth attacker and banged in the tying goal as things grew frantic on the ice. But the Flyers, now 0-3-0, couldn’t match Detroit.

Goaltender Steve Mason left the net with 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Again it was six-on-five, often a test of wills as much as talent, and this time the Canes held.

The Flyers’ Vincent Lecavalier had a shot blocked by defenseman Andrej Sekera with a little more than a minute to play, but Philadelphia could generate little else.

“It had the very same feel as the last game, so it was nice to get a different result,” said Canes center Jordan Staal, who was on the ice in the final minute. “After a tough ending to last time, it was nice to just have a solid third period and do all the right things.”

Strong forechecking was a constant for the Canes in the bruising game – the Flyers were credited with 46 hits, 10 by forward Zac Rinaldo. It helped set up both goals for the Canes, who had a 34-18 shooting edge.

Harrison barely got a shot past Mason about eight minutes into the first. Harrison took Ryan Murphy’s pass off the boards, then fired a shot from the left point, the puck trickling through Mason’s pads.

Murphy’s assist was his first career NHL point.

Dvorak got the winner on a shot from the slot at eight minutes, 20 seconds of the second. Skinner first pressured Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn into a poor pass from behind the Philadelphia net. The puck nicked Skinner’s skate and skidded out toward an open Dvorak.

Schenn scored early in the second period, grabbing the puck after a faceoff win and walking in to beat Khudobin with a quick, high-shelf shot.

But the Canes soon were boosted by a long, strong shift from their fourth line of Drayson Bowman, Brett Sutter and rookie Elias Lindholm, who was injured in the third period after a hit along the boards but later returned to the bench.

Skinner, named the game’s first star, finished with two assists, but it was his solid all-around play with linemates Riley Nash and Dvorak that pleased Canes coach Kirk Muller.

“He was more tenacious on the puck,” Muller said. “He created more. And he worked hard without the puck.”

But the hardest work came at the end from everyone in red. With the crowd of 16,088 on its feet, including a lot of Flyers fans, the Canes were gritty and won.

“It takes a little bit of smarts on the defensive side, from trying not to run around, and stay calm and make the right plays,” Jordan Staal said. “When the crowd’s going nuts it’s hard sometimes. It made for a fun finish.”

See the box score from the game

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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