With five straight games at home, Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said it was time for his team to “dig in.”
Play smart, play hard, win some games and play its way back up the standings in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
The Canes may yet do that, but they didn’t win Thursday. The Anaheim Ducks, getting two goals and two assists from forward Jakob Silfverberg, held on for a 4-2 victory at PNC Arena.
Ryan Kesler also had a pair of goal for the Ducks, the second an empty-netter that clinched it in the final minute. That came after the Canes, trailing 3-0 in the second, made a hard push.
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Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen scored on a redirection of a Jaccob Slavin shot before the second period ended, and Victor Rask scored early in the third off a Jeff Skinner pass.
Rask nearly tied the score with a backhander with 12:23 left in regulation, but Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier was there for one of his 25 saves.
Canes forward Phil Di Giuseppe forced Bernier into a tough stop with 6:30 left in regulation, and Bernier then high-sticked Di Giuseppe as the goalie rose up out of the net in a puck scramble. But Carolina couldn’t convert on the power play, and later couldn’t get the puck past Bernier during a mad scramble around the crease with an extra attacker.
“When we can use our speed and can play a quick transition game, and get in on the forecheck and sustain that offensive pressure, we’re at our best,” Skinner said. “I think that’s what we got to in the third, and something we have to get to on a more consistent basis.”
Teravainen’s goal, his third of the season, energized the Canes. So did forward Viktor Stalberg, who dropped the gloves to fight the Ducks’ Josh Manson later in the second.
“That drags guys into the battle and away you go,” Peters said.
In the third, Lee Stempniak gave the Canes pressure on the forecheck. Skinner took it from there from behind the net, finding Rask alone for his fifth of the season.
“We were going to the net more,” Teravainen said. “We were chasing and almost made it even. It was a good try but not enough.”
The Ducks (7-5-3), a night after an overtime loss on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets, had a three-goal second period.
Kesler gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead off a Andrew Cogliano feed from behind the net, and Silfverberg’s first goal came after some active forechecking, when he collected a Cam Fowler shot that was wide and off the end boards.
The third Ducks goal came after Canes defenseman Brett Pesce misplayed the puck at the Carolina blue line. It was a footrace that Silfverberg won, getting off a shot from the right circle that goalie Cam Ward couldn’t stop.
The Ducks also were physical in the second. Kesler, who rarely backs off, took a run at Skinner late in the period and Stalberg and Manson provided some fisticuffs.
Peters, who juggled his lines during the game, made one lineup change after the morning skate, inserting defenseman Ryan Murphy for Jakub Nakladal. Murphy, like the rest of the Canes, had a rough second period, misplaying a pass from Ward in a sequence that ended up with Silfverberg scoring his first goal for a 2-0 lead.
Skinner nearly scored on a first-period power play. The puck trickled toward the goal line, forcing Bernier to make a diving stop whole getting help from defenseman Sami Vatanen.
The Canes (3-6-4) next face the Washington Capitals on Saturday at PNC Arena, and a weekend game should draw more than Thursday's turnout of 8,086.
“We have to build off that third period,” Skinner said. “There were a lot of positive things we did in that third. Just keep plugging away. That’s pretty much our mindset.”