LA Kings edge Hurricanes in shootout, 2-1

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 11, 2013 

— The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago with a bruising brand of hockey, and played the same style Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

But the Canes, a night after a tough game in Washington, evenly matched the Kings for three periods and then an overtime. It took a shootout to decide it, and the Kings finally emerged with a 2-1 victory at PNC Arena.

Jeff Carter had the only shootout goal, beating Canes goalie Cam Ward with a backhander. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick turned back attempts by the Canes' Jeff Skinner, Alexander Semin and Nathan Gerbe.

For the Kings, call it two well-earned points. For the Canes, it was a very hard-earned point.

"It was a good game," Gerbe said. "Two good teams battling. It always (stinks) losing in a shootout but that's the way it is now."

Gerbe, the Canes' third shooter, noted he works out with Quick during the offseason in Connecticut and that Quick knows his shooting tendencies.

"I've taken a couple hundred shots on him in the summer," Gerbe said. "I tried to change up what I do. Usually I would come down and wait for the low-blocker shot. But 'Quickie' knows me well and I tried to change it up. If I get it up I might have got him."

The Hurricanes (2-1-2) got Quick once. After Dwight King's shorthanded goal in the third period gave the Kings a 1-0 lead, Jeff Skinner struck on the power play for the Canes 40 seconds later. Skinner followed up defenseman Andrej Sekera's shot from the point, whacking in the rebound for his first goal of the season.

But the two special-team scores was all Quick and Ward allowed. Ward had 36 saves and Quick 27 in a duel of two former Conn Smythe Trophy winners.

The Canes got a strong performance from goaltender Anton Khudobin in the 3-2 road win over the Caps. Ward was touched for five goals Tuesday in the Canes' 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was sharp with his angles and movement Friday.

"I felt I gave us a chance and that's what I need to do,” Ward said. “I needed to rebound after Pittsburgh. Obviously they're a very good team out West and for a back-to-back for us, it was a big point for us. It could have gone either way."

Canes coach Kirk Muller tweaked his lineup for the second of the back-to-back set, giving forward Kevin Westgarth and defenseman Mike Komisarek their first starts of the season and sitting defenseman Ryan Murphy and forward Riley Nash. Rookie Elias Lindholm also was moved to third-line center with Skinner and Radek Dvorak as his wingers.

Lindholm, who scored his first NHL goal against the Caps, suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the first period but returned. But Lindholm appeared to hurt the same shoulder in the second and was lost for the remainder of the game as Skinner took over as the third-line center.

The game was scoreless the first two periods, and both teams' penalty killers were effective for the most part. The Canes killed off a Jay Harrison hooking penalty in overtime, denying the Kings on a 4-on-3 power play.

"It was a good show of mental toughness," Skinner said of the kill. "Everyone's tired and it was a good job to grind it out and get to the shootout."

The Kings (3-2-0) were coming off a 4-3 overtime win Wednesday in Ottawa and held a spirited practice Friday morning while the Canes did not skate. But there was no lack of energy or hitting in the game, by either team.

"That's a big, physical team to match up with in back-to-back games," Muller said. "I thought it was a real gutsy effort for our guys coming off that hard-fought game in Washington. (The Kings) demand you to play a hard-fought game and I think that's a game that shows our team is growing together."

The Canes face another Western Conference team Sunday when they host the Phoenix Coyotes in a 1 p.m. game.

"This time of year, picking up points is the key," Muller said. "But it's the way we did it tonight. I'm really pleased with the effort."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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