Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters had more things to say Sunday about goalie Eddie Lack.
This time, all good things.
Two days after being publicly criticized and challenged by his coach, Lack was given the start Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes. He responded by making 25 saves in a 2-1 road victory at Gila River Arena, the Canes winning on Derek Ryan’s goal with 3:57 left in regulation.
Asked after the game if he felt added pressure because of Peters’ comments, Lack said, “No, no, no, no. I have so many positive people around me and everything, and I felt like I got so many phone calls and texts the past couple of days. I just stayed positive and kept working hard in practice.”
After the Canes’ morning skate Friday, Peters appeared irritated when a question was posed about a competition in the final stretch of the season between Lack and goalie Cam Ward, who has played in 50 games. That was two days after Lack allowed four goals on 16 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss to Tampa Bay.
Peters noted Lack’s save percentage, then .873, was the lowest among 60 NHL goalies with 10 or more games. “Not good enough,” he said. He said Lack needed to earn the respect of his teammates in his next game, adding, “You better get some saves and a timely save at the right time wouldn’t hurt” and ended the media scrum by saying, “Make a (expletive) save.”
Peters’ comments quickly went viral on social media, becoming the talk of the NHL. But after Canes lost to the Coyotes 4-2 Friday, with Ward in net, Peters said he did not regret calling out Lack, saying he was “just being honest.”
Peters came off as more contrite after Sunday’s win, saying the episode was “not my proudest moment.” He said by chance he and Lack arrived at the same time and parked side by side at RDU’s private aviation lot Saturday before the team’s flight to Arizona.
“We had a great talk and a great walk from the cars to the plane,” Peters said. “I have a lot of respect for him, a lot of respect for him as a player.
“He’ll be fine. It’s all good.”
Lack did have timely saves Sunday as the Canes (26-26-10) ended a four-game winless streak. The biggest came on a Tobias Rieder breakaway with three minutes left in the second period and the score tied 1-1.
“I thought it was huge,” Peters said. “We came into the (intermission) break even instead of down one. That’s a bigtime save.”
Teuvo Teravainen had a second-period goal for the Canes, redirecting a shot by defenseman Jaccob Slavin, and the Canes killed off six shorthanded minutes in the third before Ryan followed up a Jeff Skinner shot for the winner. Slavin, in one of his best games of the season, probably should have had a second assist on the Ryan goal, making a nice play to get the puck to Skinner.
“He’s turning into an All-Star,” Lack said of Slavin.
Canes forward Phil Di Giuseppe left the game with an upper-body injury, but Peters had no immediate update.
Lack told the media after the game he did not want to comment on Peters’ strong words Friday.
“I’m just here doing my job,” Lack said. “I try not to get caught up in the media or whatever.”
But Lack did appear to show a little humor, saying his victory Sunday “was a good game to get my stats up a little bit.”