The Carolina Hurricanes found different ways to score Saturday in beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 at PNC Arena.
Justin Faulk had a power-play goal. Jeff Skinner’s tying goal came with a sixth attacker on the ice, with 3.3 seconds left in regulation. Jordan Staal then won the game in overtime.
Another way of putting it: the Canes scored five on four, six on five and then three on three in the OT.
But five-on-five scoring, the foundation of the NHL’s best teams, again has been mostly missing in the Canes’ 6-8-0 start. While their overall five-on-five play has generally been effective, the Canes have been outscored 28-17 five on five.
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“I think we’ve played pretty good hockey,” Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour said Monday. “We haven’t scored a lot of goals and it’s put a lot of pressure on our overall game.
“I like the work effort we’ve had most nights. As a coach, I haven’t felt we were out of games or the other team took it to us. That’s a good sign and obviously now we have to find a way to score more goals to lessen that pressure on our overall game.”
In a 4-1 loss Friday to the Dallas Stars, the Canes got an even-strength goal from Jordan Staal to take a 1-0 lead in the second period and had 31 five-on-five shots to the Stars’ 26. But Dallas scored four even-strength goals.
“That’s been our history the past few years,” Brind’Amour said. “We have a tendency to get a lot of shots but we’re not a real, real gifted team to put the puck in the net that much. We need to create more and find more ways to get more Grade A chances.”
Everybody talks about getting more traffic (in front of goalies) and this and that, but there are other ways, too, on the rush and getting our ‘D’ more active.
Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour
Compounding the Canes’ scoring problems – Carolina is 27th in the NHL with 2.14 goals per game – has a been an erratic power play and lack of five-on-five offense from their defensemen. Defenseman Justin Faulk has a team-high five goals, all on the power play.
“Everybody talks about getting more traffic (in front of goalies) and this and that, but there are other ways, too, on the rush and getting our ‘D’ more active,” Brind’Amour said.
Against Ottawa, the Canes had 39 five-on-five shots and 46 shots in all. Skinner, Faulk and Victor Rask each had five shots and Carolina had nine players with three or more shots on goal.
“I think we’ve done a good job of not giving up much and our offense is slowly coming,” Jordan Staal said Monday. “You can always get better at each end, but we take pride of not giving up much five on five and I think we’ve done a good job.”
Staal’s play has mirrored the team’s in that the center has been strong defensively while usually matched against the other team’s best line. He did not score in the first 11 games but now has goals in each of the past three.
It’s Staal’s longest goal-scoring streak since being traded to Carolina in June 2012, and his best since the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, when he had six goals in three games for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s been nice to contribute that way,” Staal said. “I feel for a while I was heading in the right direction and playing some good games but not getting rewarded. I think it’s nice to not have that goose-egg now and move forward. Chipping in offensively always makes it fun.”
Ron Hainsey is the only other Canes defenseman to score a goal this season and both have been game-winner. Among the forwards, Skinner has three goals and Elias Lindholm, Nathan Gerbe and Nash one apiece.
The Canes’ 5.2 percent shooting five on five is tied for 28th in the NHL, and their 17 five-on-five goals topped only New Jersey (16) and Anaheim (14) after Sunday’s games
“It’s something we will continue to focus on and harp on,” defenseman John-Michael Liles said. “Five on five, guys are skating. Forwards are tracking back (defensively). We’re a mobile team.
“Ultimately it’s a matter of guys getting more confidence or finding more lanes, getting key bounces … it’s any number of things. And then building off of that and generating more offense, with all four lines going and the defensemen jumping in. That’s what you hope for.”