Having fallen to last in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes were looking for change Saturday.
Get some new faces in the lineup, shake things up, find more energy, try to find a way to win a hockey game.
The Hurricanes were facing the Montreal Canadiens, the best team in the Eastern Conference, but put in a solid 60-minute effort to emerge with a 3-2 victory at PNC Arena.
Jeff Skinner scored twice and Joakim Nordstrom got his first goal in a Hurricanes uniform as Carolina ended a three-game losing skid that had become troubling. Goalie Cam Ward was at his best in net for the Canes, playing with confidence and making 36 saves after allowing a soft goal early in the game, and Carolina’s special teams — a liability in recent games — got the job done.
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“Every team goes through adversity,” Skinner said. “You just have to keep battling.”
Skinner scored the winner with 7:32 left in the third, banging a shot in tight past Habs goalie Mike Condon five seconds into a power play. But things turned tense for the Canes in the final minutes, especially after Eric Staal flipped a puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty. The Canadiens pulled Condon for an extra attacker and had a 6-on-4 advantage, but Ward and the Canes wouldn’t allow a tying goal.
“It’s stressful but at the same time you just have to remain calm and in control and not get caught up in the chaos by moving around too much,” said Ward, who had 13 saves in the third. “You’ve just got to keep it simple and play your position and tonight we did, and we got some good bounces.”
And some bad ones. Staal appeared to score a go-ahead goal 14 seconds into the third, getting off a shot, then tumbling over Condon in the crease as the puck trickled into the net.
The play was initially reviewed by the league and the goal upheld. But Montreal’s Michel Therrien then made a coach’s challenge, claiming goaltender interference by Staal, and after another look, the goal was overturned and the score remained tied 2-2.
The Canes then began finding the posts and crossbar with attempts — Justin Faulk, Elias Lindholm, Staal. It would have been easy to become frustrated.
The Canes (9-13-4) were coming off a tasteless 5-1 beating Thursday by the New Jersey Devils. Carolina called up defenseman Jaccob Slavin and forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Brock McGinn from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL on Friday and all played as Peters made healthy scratches of forwards Kris Versteeg, Riley Nash and defenseman Michal Jordan.
“The last game we didn’t play at all like we should,” Skinner said. “When things like that happen in this business, changes are made.”
Daniel Carr’s first NHL goal — on his first shift and first shot — gave Montreal (19-6-3) a 1-0 lead in the first period as Ward was late getting to the post on a wraparound.
Skinner’s first goal came just as the Canes’ first power play expired. Jordan Staal circled the net and got the puck to Skinner in front. He went backhand-to-forehand and lifted the puck past Condon.
Sven Andrighetto was unchecked in front of Ward in the second period, taking a pass from defenseman Jeff Petry and pushing the Habs ahead 2-1. But Nordstrom answered less than two minutes later.
After making a hit in the corner, the winger went to the front of the net as Andrej Nestrasil got off a backhander from the slot. Nordstrom, obtained in September from the Chicago Blackhawks, jumped on the rebound for the 2-2 tie.
Nestrasil had a pair of assists as he was given a chance to play on the power play and the Jordan Staal line was active on the forecheck.
Versteeg, acquired with Nordstrom in the Chicago trade, has gone 13 games without scoring. Nash scored his only goal Oct. 24 against San Jose and has gone the past 14 games without a point.
The Canes host the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday at PNC Arena, but this time are coming off a win.
“It’s huge to have that different mindset and have that winning feeling back in the locker room again,” Ward said.