Blue Jackets 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)

Hurricanes fall to Blue Jackets 3-2 on power-play goal in OT

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 29, 2014 

— There were two desperate teams on the ice Saturday at PNC Arena, playing a game with a do-or-die feel to it.

On this night, at least, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the more desperate team.

The Jackets edged the Canes 3-2 in overtime, enhancing their chances of making the Stanley Cup playoffs while delivering another blow to the Canes.

Ryan Johansen’s power-play goal at 2 minutes, 40 seconds of overtime won it for the Jackets (38-30-6). Johansen’s 30th goal of the season came after Canes forward Jiri Tlusty was called for a delay-of-game penalty for closing his hand on the puck.

“It’s tough because it’s a big game,” Canes coach Kirk Muller said. “We talked before the game that it would be a 60-minute game or 60-minute-plus. Turns out it was.

“It was a playoff-style game. Not much space out there. We got key goals at the right time, but unfortunately three mistakes that we made cost us, yet we didn’t make hardly any.”

The Canes got go-ahead goals from Jeff Skinner in the second period and Andrei Loktionov in the third, only to quickly allow tying scores by the Jackets.

Skinner’s 29th of the season gave the Canes a 1-0 lead late in the second, but a Skinner turnover soon left the score tied at 1. After Loktionov’s power-play goal in the third, the Jackets’ Artem Anisimov scored an easy goal, tapping the puck past Canes goalie Anton Khudobin after Khudobin allowed a rebound to slip away from him.

With a 32-32-10 record, the Canes are running out of games – and hope. With eight games remaining, they’re on the brink of missing the playoffs for a fifth straight season.

“I think it’s past frustrating now,” Canes captain Eric Staal said. “We just seem to find ways to lose. We need to find ways to win, whether it be a bounce, whether it be a quick breakdown or whether it be a battle.

“It was close. It was a tight game, two teams playing hard. But we need to win, we need to get points.”

Skinner scored with 3:31 left in the second after some hard work by his line. Riley Nash, who had two assists, passed to Skinner in the slot for a shot that was stopped. Elias Lindholm got a piece of the puck in front and Skinner chipped it past Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney.

But Skinner’s turnover in the offensive zone soon allowed the Jackets to tie. Jackets forward Matt Calvert picked off Skinner’s pass from the corner in the right circle and quickly whipped a shot past Khudobin with 1:14 remaining in the period.

Early in the third, Loktionov ripped a shot from the right circle for his power-play goal and a 2-1 lead. But the Jackets countered less than a minute later as Anisimov scored his 20th.

“The second goal was a tough one,” Muller said. “We get a big goal and they come right back and get a soft goal like that.”

Of McElhinney’s 25 saves, the biggest may have been on an Eric Staal shot midway through the third. “I wish I could have that one back,” Staal said.

Khudobin, coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers on Thursday, finished with 29 saves. He had several nice stops – denying Blake Comeau in the first on a two-on-one rush – but couldn’t have liked the ones that got past him.

“Its unfortunate we came up short again,” Canes center Jordan Staal said. “It seems like it has been like that throughout the year. Just a little extra that we need to win games and (instead) finding ways to lose.”

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

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