Skinner, Peters, Canes make easy work of Caps in Washington

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 3, 2013 

— The Carolina Hurricanes needed a rally to beat the Washington Capitals the first time the two teams tangled this season at the Verizon Center.

The second game wasn't close. No rally required.

Jeff Skinner, playing on Eric Staal's line, had two goals and an assist, and Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty each scored as the Canes rolled to a 4-1 victory.

Justin Peters, getting a start in net, was sharp and the Canes' special teams were effective as Carolina (11-12-5) ended a two-game losing streak. Sekera's goal was a power-play score — something of a rarity for the Canes this season.

"It was a complete game," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. “(Peters) played really well and made the big saves at the right time. Our power play looked better, and overall five on five everyone was engaged."

Goaltender Cam Ward had started the past five games but Muller was looking for a change. Peters responded with 26 saves and kept the explosive Caps throttled until defenseman Mike Green's power-play score in the third.

By then, it didn't matter. The Canes led 4-0, had knocked Caps goalie Braden Holtby out of the game and had contained and frustrated Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL's leading scorer.

"It was a nice confidence booster for myself and for the team," Peters said. "They came out ready to go, and we answered back pretty good."

Skinner's first goal gave the Canes a 1-0 lead after the first. He beat Holtby on the short side, finding a tiny hole at the post after taking a pass from Staal, who had two assists.

Skinner's second was a bullet from the left wing in the second. Sekera, who had missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, followed with a shot from the point, and Tlusty grabbed a loose puck in the slot and beat Holtby with a backhander for his first goal in 11 games.

That was three goals in fewer than four minutes. Sekera and Tlusty scored 53 seconds apart.

Skinner now has nine two-goal games in his 205-game career. He's still looking for his first hat trick, even though Staal and others kept trying to set him up in the third.

"I think the line clicked pretty well," Skinner said. "But I think everybody was moving. We got a good start and kept building on it. There weren't any lulls."

Skinner was disappointed in his play Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. But he had seven shotsTuesday and was the most active player on the ice.

"Our big line came up big," Muller said. "They led the way."

The Canes topped the Caps 3-2 in their first game, on Oct. 10. They're now chasing the Caps (14-12-2) in the division and needed a win.

This night, scoring four goals and stopping the Caps on four power plays were the difference. And Skinner. .

"We played 60 minutes as a team and that's the only way you win in this league," Sekera said.

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