Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters didn’t give Victor Rask or Elias Lindholm much notice or time to think.
“Victor, you’re going,” Peters told Rask.
Moments later, “Lindy, you’re going next.”
Rask and Lindholm were the Canes’ first two shooters Tuesday in a shootout against the Colorado Avalanche at PNC Arena. Both delivered goals, Canes goalie Anton Khudobin did his job with two stops and Carolina was a 3-2 winner against the Avs.
Neither player improvised a shot on the fly while skating in on goalie Calvin Pickard. Rask noted the Canes watched video of Pickard before Tuesday’s morning skate as part of its pregame preparation, developing a shootout strategy, if needed.
Rask faked forehand and went backhand, easily scoring. Lindholm went top shelf, quickly lifting the puck under the cross bar.
“We saw the video of the goalie and how he does shootouts,” Rask said. “That move came up in my mind then, and I tried it and it worked.”
Rask, a 21-year-old rookie, had one other shootout try this season. Against Buffalo on Oct. 14, he overskated the puck at center ice and fanned on it, having to skate back to collect it and try again. And then he missed the shot against Jhonas Enroth.
Asked to describe that somewhat embarrassing moment, Rask smiled Wednesday and said, “I can’t remember.”
As for being the first one up Tuesday after the Canes opted to shoot first, Rask said, “I don’t really care whether I go first, second, third, whatever.”
Peters said Nathan Gerbe would have been the third shooter had either Nathan MacKinnon or Matt Duchene scored on Khudobin and the shootout gone to a third round. Eric Staal, who had the winning shootout goal Jan. 4 against the Boston Bruins, was not in the rotation this time.
Chris Terry has scored on four of seven career shootout shots and has two game winners, but he was a healthy scratch for the Avs game.
Peters said career shootout numbers are consideredin addition to how a player fares in shootout competitions in practice. Gerbe and Lindholm were the best in the most recent competition, he said, with Rask “in the hunt.”
“We talk about that stuff all the time, and we needed to change it up a little bit,” Peters said. “Those two kids came through. They showed a lot of poise.”
The Canes lost their first three shootouts this season – two of the losses to the New York Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist. They’ve now won three of the past four, losing 5-4 Saturday on the road against the St. Louis Blues, as Khudobin won all three.
Jeff Skinner, Staal and Alexander Semin were the three shooters in St. Louis, and all failed to score. The Blues’ T.J. Oshie, one of the NHL’s best shootout specialists, had the only goal against Cam Ward, who is 11-28 in career shootouts; Khudobin is 4-2.
Lindholm, 20, said he likes the concept of the shootout. “It’s always fun,” he said. “It’s a good challenge.”
Although there’s talk of possibly implementing a three-on-three overtime period to make a shootout less likely, Lindholm said, “It’s probably more fun for the crowd to watch the shootouts.”
Lindholm said he only had two or three shootout attempts while playing in the Swedish Elite League. He was 0-for-2 for the Canes before Tuesday.
Rask wasn’t sure of his overall shootout numbers, saying he had a few with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. He scored the winning shootout goal for Sweden against Switzerland in a preliminary game in the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Lindholm said he watched Rask’s shot to see Pickard’s reaction. He also rated Rask’s shot better than his own, stylistically, saying it added a little pressure.
Rask wasn’t sure about that, saying, “They both went in and that’s what counts. We got the two points. That’s huge.”