The preliminaries are over for the Carolina Hurricanes, their preseason schedule done. Time for the regular season to begin.
Not that it begins that soon. The Canes must wait — and practice — until next Saturday, Oct. 7, when they host the Minnesota Wild in the season opener at PNC Arena.
The Canes put in their seventh and final preseason game Friday, taking a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Defensemen Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored goals, and goalie Scott Darling -- in his second preseason outing -- was solid in net while Carolina did a good job limiting the Caps’ shots and scoring looks.
There are things to be done in the week before the opener. Canes coach Bill Peters said a team captain would be chosen, and there are roster cuts to be made before the final rosters are submitted before the Tuesday deadline.
Darling, slowed in preseason with some minor injuries, played his first exhibition game Monday against Edmonton, earning a 6-2 win. He faced just 19 shots Friday as the Canes finished 5-2 in the preseason.
“The first game with the Canes in Edmonton I was jittery,” Darling said. “I felt more comfortable tonight. It was fun to play in front of the home crowd.”
Darling, apparently feeling frisky, bolted out of the net almost to the Carolina blue line to play a puck in the first period, thwarting what could have been a Caps shorthanded chance.
The Caps did not have Alexander Ovechkin in the lineup. Also missing were such regulars as forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie.
And Braden Holtby. The Caps’ No. 1 goalie was the backup Friday as Philipp Grubauer got the start.
The Canes dressed what could be nearly all of their opening-night roster.
“We’ve played well but obviously it’s a whole, another step up once you get the regular season going,” Faulk said. “I think we’re ready for the start of the regular season.
“Our record is pretty good but it’s a wash come Oct. 7. But we’re feeling pretty good and I think with this week of practice we can shore some things up that we need to work on, that were hidden a bit on some of the wins.”
Martin Necas, the Canes’ first-round draft pick, played his sixth preseason game and was used at right wing on a line with center Derek Ryan and Jeff Skinner. Forward Janne Kuokkanen also got another game as Teuvo Teravainen sat out the game with a minor injury.
Faulk scored in the first as Canes forward Brock McGinn went to the front of the net to screen Grubauer, allowing Faulk’s outside shot to get past the goaltender for a 1-0 lead.
The Caps tied it 1-1 on a Matt Niskanen goal early in the second, but Hanifin gave the Canes a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal in the second off a Jordan Staal centering pass.
Van Riemsdyk made it 3-1 in third with a tight-angle shot from the wing that caught Grubauer napping.
It was Carolina’s second preseason win over the Caps in less than a week. The Canes won 4-1 last Saturday in Washington.
“It was a little sloppy both ways at times,” Peters said of Friday’s game. “We looked a little tired execution-wise, weren’t sharp. But when it mattered we dug in and didn’t give up much in the third period and closed the game out the way you’re supposed to close the game when you enter the third with the lead. And we’ve done that in the preseason and that’s a good sign.”