Carolina Hurricanes

McGinn, Ward lead Hurricanes to 3-1 win over Avalanche

Brock McGinn has always been a physical player, capable of hits that hurt.

The forward has developed into an effective, aggressive penalty killer, filling that valuable role for the Carolina Hurricanes.

But McGinn is proving he can score at the NHL level, and his two goals Saturday helped the Canes to a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche before a crowd of 15,589 at PNC Arena that enjoyed the fast-paced, uptempo game.

Jeff Skinner picked up his 16th goal of the season and goalie Cam Ward earned his 16th win with 29 saves for Carolina (26-21-9), which moved into wild-card playoff position in the Eastern Conference with 61 points.

“I’d rather be playing well and not care if I’m in by one or out by two or games in hand,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “I’d rather be playing well and building toward something, and that’s what we’re doing.”

For the first 40 minutes of the game, all the scoring was compressed into a span of 18 seconds.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie scored for the Avs at 16:51 of the first period.

McGinn answered for the Canes at 17:09 with his ninth goal of the season.

“That was huge,” Ward said. “We scored on the next shift ... and you start fresh again. ‘Ginner’ was a man tonight.”

Two goals, 18 seconds. Other than that, Ward and the Avs’ Semyon Varlamov were making all the stops as the Canes looked to follow up a 4-1 win over Vancouver on Friday and the Avs to bounce back after a big loss Thursday against St. Louis.

Until McGinn, again, scored 35 seconds into the third -- his 10th. Both McGinn goals came after some strong forechecking by Elias Lindholm, who had two assists, as Peters switched up the lines during the game.

“He brings a lot of energy and he’s got a ton of skill, too,” Skinner said of McGinn. “That’s a nice combination.”

Ward made an acrobatic play in the first period to rob the Avs’ Gabriel Bourque on an odd-man rush. Ward got his glove on the shot, the puck bouncing on top of Ward’s pad before Ward scissored his legs to smother it.

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The Canes' Justin Faulk (27) and Cam Ward (30) defend the net against the Avs' Gabriel Bourque (57) during the second period of an NHL game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Colorado Avalanche. Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com

The Canes’ penalty killers did their job early in the second period. Canes forward Teuvo Teravainen bloodied Avs forward J.T. Compher with a high stick but the Canes killed off all four minutes of the double minor.

Ward was a big part of that. So were McGinn along with defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. The best offensive chance in the four minutes might have been a McGinn backhander on a shorthanded attempt.

The Avs were 0-5 on the power play, and the Hurricanes now have killed off 17 straight penalties over the past seven games.

“We’re outworking the power plays,” McGinn said. “We’re really following our systems and working as a four-man unit. We’re getting the saves from ‘Wardo’ and when we have the opportunities to get it 200 feet (on clears) we are right now.”

Skinner had scored one goal in the past 11 games despite getting a lot of good looks. He banged in the rebound of a Lee Stempniak backhander and also made some alert defensive plays during the game.

The Canes caught a break as the Avs (29-21-4) played without injured forward Nathan MacKinnon, their leading scorer. On Friday, the Vancouver Canucks were missing rookie forward Brock Boeser.

The Canes’ eight-game homestand, their longest of the season, ends Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.

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