Skinner's hat trick helps Canes beat Predators, 5-2

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 5, 2013 

— Posted in the Nashville Predators dressing room at Bridgestone Arena is the phrase, “Be hard to play against and harder to beat.”

The Predators are that, and especially at home, but the Carolina Hurricanes found a way to beat them Thursday.

Spurred by forward Jeff Skinner's first career hat trick and a goal and two assists from defenseman Justin Faulk, the Hurricanes won 5-2, picking up only their second victory in Bridgestone Arena.

“It’s safe to say we outworked a hard-working team,” Canes coach Kirk Muller said.

Following up a 4-1 road victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday that came with few blemishes, the Canes (12-12-5) had to grind it out Thursday.

Skinner scored twice against the Caps, just missing a hat trick. But his empty netter Thursday provided a career first for the winger, who again played on the top line with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu.

“It’s nice to get it,” Skinner said. “The puck was bouncing a lot and it was kind of a weird game. There wasn’t much flow. But everyone chipped in.”

For the second straight game, the Canes led 1-0 after the first period and had scored four times after two periods.

And for the second straight game, Justin Peters was in net, although not as quite as smooth and sharp as he was in Washington.

But the Canes, for the second straight game, knocked the opposing goalie out of the game. Marek Mazanec, the NHL’s rookie of the month in November, was lifted for Carter Hutton after the second period.

Defenseman Justin Faulk gave the Canes the lead 23 seconds into the game with a snap-wrister off the right boards.

The Preds (13-13-3) then rocked the Canes with two goals in the first three minutes of the second to move ahead. Mike Fisher scored on a redirection and Viktor Stalberg banged in the puck after Peters couldn’t corral a rebound.

But about three minutes later, Peters stopped Stalberg on a breakaway. The Canes appeared to steady themselves.

“It kind of calms the team down when you get saves like that,” Skinner said.

Skinner rifled a shot from the right wing for his first goal and a 2-2 tie. Riley Nash scored on a three-on-one rush off a perfect pass from Patrick Dwyer. When Skinner then loaded up and bombed in a power-play shot, it was 4-2.

“Skinny was on fire,” Peters said.

The Canes played the third period with a short bench as three players were out with injuries. Dwyer took a stick in the face, and forward Drayson Bowman and defenseman Mike Komisarek left with lower-body injuries.

“We lost a few bodies,” said Muller, who did not have updates on the injuries after the game.

The Hurricanes had 87 seconds of a five-on-three power play midway through the third but didn’t score. But they kept clearing pucks on the defensive end and protected Peters.

Skinner’s third goal caused a few hats to hit the ice.

“We found a way to get it done,” Peters said. “We got some big timely goals and the guys stepped up again.”

See the box score from this game.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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