The Carolina Hurricanes checked off a lot of boxes Thursday in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
▪ The Canes won a road game, a rarity this season.
▪ They scored four goals in a game for the first time since their eight-goal outburst against Vancouver.
▪ They scored a power-play goal, their first in eight games.
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▪ Jeff Skinner, without a point in five games, scored his 14th of the season.
▪ Justin Faulk was back in the lineup and playing big minutes.
▪ Goaltender Cam Ward got the job done in net against a good Western Conference team.
“I liked us. I liked us in a lot of areas,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “I liked our specialty teams. Good effort throughout. I thought everyone found a way to contribute, all four lines, all 60 (minutes).”
The Canes (17-14-7) did allow a power-play goal as the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko scored off the rush in the second period to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. The Canes also squandered a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity when Jordan Staal was called for slashing.
Carolina had been 0-for-16 on the power play the past seven games and had not scored since Teuvo Teravainen’s power-play goal Dec. 16 against Washington. But Skinner struck with 6:08 left in the third for what would be the game-winner, on a shot that glanced off the skate of Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
“A shooter’s mentality,” Peters said of Skinner. “When Tarasenko gets in those kinds of spots, those guys are dangerous.”
The game was the first for forward Ty Rattie, claimed off waivers Wednesday by Carolina from the Blues. Rattie was put on a line with Victor Rask and Skinner, and Derek Ryan moved to Staal’s line with winger Brock McGinn.
Ryan, without a point the past seven games, responded with a pair of goals – the first 69 seconds into the game – and Staal and McGinn each had two assists.
Jay McClement had a key goal for the Canes, scoring in the second to tie the score 2-2 after the Blues had moved ahead and gotten the Scottrade Center crowd loud and into the game.
Did it help the Canes that the Blues’ last game was their victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic? That could have been a factor.
Blues goalie Jake Allen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it was the Blues’ worst game of the season, saying the team was unfocused. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, giving the Canes more credit than his players, simply said his team was outworked.
Hitchcock likely remembers a year ago, when the Canes won easily in St. Louis, taking a 4-1 victory.
The road win was the Canes’ sixth of the season (6-10-6). They have not won consecutive games on the road this season but have that chance Friday when they face the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Ward, who faced just 23 shots Thursday in winning his 14th game, could again be the starting goalie. Or Peters might decide to go with Michael Leighton, the veteran goalie who was in the Blackhawks organization the past two seasons before signing as a free agent with Carolina.
The Canes were 1-3 after the Christmas break before Thursday and coming off a lackluster 3-1 loss Tuesday to the New Jersey Devils. But Faulk was back, activated Thursday off injured reserve and getting 21:46 of ice time.
“He’s the stabilizer, the anchor back there,” Peters said.
The Canes played with more pace. Skinner scored. It all fell into place.
“We kind of looked more like ourselves, more to our identity and the way we want to play,” Peters said.