Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal walked across the locker room Tuesday and gave goalie Cam Ward a fist bump.
That was all. No high five or hug. Just a quick, routine fist bump.
"We're rolling," Ward said, smiling.
The Canes made it three straight wins, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 in a Metropolitan Division game at Nationwide Arena that was increasingly intense and physical.
Ward earned a third consecutive victory, facing just 19 shots but making some hustling stops in the final frantic minutes of regulation. The Blue Jackets (4-8-0), a team beset by injuries, pulled within 3-2 with more than five minutes left in the third on Nick Foligno's second goal of the game, then pulled goalie Curtis McElhinney for a sixth attacker late.
But the Canes (3-6-2) held on for their first road win, getting sticks on the puck to help Ward until Staal's late empty netter clinched it.
Defenseman Justin Faulk scored what proved to be the winner about seven minutes into the second period -- Carolina's first shorthanded goal of the season.
Forcing a turnover at the Canes blue line, Faulk barreled down the left side and beat McElhinney on a shot that hit the goalie's stick and trickled in.
"It wasn't the best shot in the world but you take it anyway you can get it," Faulk said. "It's a big boost, obviously, when you can get a special-team's play in your favor. It's always a boost when you know it's going to be a tough, tight game."
Zach Boychuk and Riley Nash had first-period scores for the Canes, but Foligno struck for a power-play goal with barely a minute left in the first.
The Canes lost forward Jiri Tlusty in a chippy third period. Tlusty took an illegal hit to the head from Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson and did not return to the game.
Canes coach Bill Peters said Tlusty told him after the game that he felt fine. The Canes have Wednesday off and resume practice Thursday before facing Columbus again Friday at PNC Arena.
"It's good to win, right?" Peters said. "It doesn't matter what time of year it is. It feels good and gives the guys energy. The room is full of life."
Peters called Faulk's shortie a "momentum-swinger."
"Huge play," he said. "They were thinking about getting one (on the power play) and the next thing you know you're down two."
Much pregame attention was on Canes forward Alexander Semin, who was a healthy scratch the past two games as Carolina topped the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings for its first two wins of the season. Semin returned to the lineup Tuesday and was on Staal's line -- Jeff Skinner was moved to the fourth line -- but had a mostly quiet game.
Defenseman Jay Harrison received the fireman's helmet as the team player of the game.
"The guys are playing hard," Ward said. "We pushed the pace early on (and) it was a complete effort by everybody. We've got a good thing going here and we want to keep it going."