The Carolina Hurricanes had little time to celebrate their first victory of the season. Less than 24 hours, actually.
The Los Angeles Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, were at PNC Arena on Sunday – edgy, looking to end a skid of their own, and with forwards Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik back in the lineup after being sidelined with injuries.
But the Canes stood up to the champs and again played with sustained effort and solid execution and won 3-2. Goaltender Cam Ward again was big in net, following up his shutout of the Arizona Coyotes with a 30-save game while rookie Victor Rask picked up the first goal his NHL career and Chris Terry and Elias Lindholm also scored.
“Winning is contagious,” said Terry, who had a second-period power-play score. “We got a taste of it (Saturday) night. It’s fun when you win. There’s a lot better mood around the locker room, and I think that carried over into today’s game.”
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Canes coach Bill Peters was so satisfied with the look of his team Saturday in a 3-0 win over the Coyotes that he stuck with the same lineup. That meant forward Alexander Semin again was a healthy scratch, as was defenseman John-Michael Liles.
And Ward was back in net. Making his third consecutive start, he withstood a big Kings push in the third, when Los Angeles put 13 shots on net.
With the Kings trailing 3-2 late in regulation, Ward made a hard push to his left to get his pad on a shot by Kopitar. While Ward had several timely stops, the stop on Kopitar may have been the biggest.
“That was nice,” Canes captain Eric Staal said, smiling. “Not the ideal guy to give up a scoring chance to. Obviously a huge save, and he had a couple others that were key for us.
“He was on his toes, feeling good. He looks comfortable. He’s poised and making the plays. When he does that he gives us a chance.”
Ward was named the game’s first star but didn’t get to keep the fireman’s helmet – the new team award handed out after wins. Defenseman Justin Faulk was wearing that Sunday after a plus-2 game in which he moved the puck quickly and efficiently while doing the gritty work.
Faulk was hit in the face by a puck Saturday – “Took one on the lips,” Peters said – but was back at it Sunday, playing 25 minutes.
“We got a full 60 minutes out of pretty much everybody,” Faulk said. “When we can keep things simple, get pucks in and when we do have the puck in the offensive zone make plays and wear teams out down low, good things happen.”
The Canes (2-6-2) did that. Rask’s line, with Terry and Zach Boychuk on the wings, turned a three-zone play into Rask’s first NHL goal and a 1-0 lead.
Rask corralled the puck in the defensive zone, then passed to Boychuk on the right wing in transition. Boychuk zipped a cross-ice pass to Terry, who found Rask crashing the net for an easy score against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Terry’s score came on a blistering one-timer off a Andrej Sekera pass. Lindholm, who scored his first two of the season against the Coyotes, then unloaded a shot from the right wing – the puck glancing off the stick of defenseman Robyn Regehr and knuckle-balling past Quick for a 3-1 lead late in the second.
Center Mike Richards had a power-play goal in the second for the Kings (6-4-2), now 0-3-1 on their road trip. Defenseman Alec Martinez scored on a shot from the point with about eight minutes left in regulation to trim the Carolina lead to 3-2 and make the final minutes intense.
“They’re a great team and know how to win, obviously,” said Canes defenseman Brett Bellemore. “You knew they’d be coming at us. But I thought we stood strong at the end and didn’t give them a lot.”