Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters was in a feisty, almost combative mood Saturday before the game against the New York Islanders.
Peters noted the Canes were getting enough scoring chances in games, but not goals. “We need to finish,” he said.
The Hurricanes did that against the Islanders, getting a pair of goals from Victor Rask and scoring five times in the second period in a 6-3 victory at PNC Arena.
It was the highest-scoring game of the season for the Canes but there was concern. They again played without defenseman Justin Faulk, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, and goalie Cam Ward left the game late in the second period.
Ward appeared to suffer a leg injury as he stretched to stop a shot from Nick Leddy. Ward stayed in the game for a few minutes but was relieved by Eddie Lack with 2:26 left in the second period.
Peters said Ward may have hurt his knee or ankle, but the coach not sure about the severity of the injury. Faulk, who leads the Canes in points, should return next week, Peters said, after missing two games.
In a continuation of the team’s 10-year anniversary celebration of the 2006 Stanley Cup run, members of the championship team gathered at center ice before the game to again take turns lifting the Cup. Among them was Doug Weight, now an Islanders assistant coach who quickly slipped out of a Canes jersey and headed to the Isles bench.
A night after a tough 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Canes (25-21-10) needed a victory to pull closer in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Carolina trails the Pens and New Jersey Devils by three points in the fight for a playoff spot.
Twelve players made the Carolina scoring sheet Saturday. Riley Nash, Noah Hanifin, Kris Versteeg and Andrej Nestrasil scored goals, and Jordan Staal and Phil Di Giuseppe each had a pair of assists. Rask’s two goals – the first on a power play – came in the final 83 seconds of the second period.
“You’ve got to find a way to finish and score big goals in big games,” Peters said after the game. “These are big games right now. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
It was the Canes’ first five-goal period since April, 6, 2010, when Carolina had five in the second period of an 8-5 win over Tampa Bay.
Nestrasil’s mother and grandmother came from the Czech Republic to see him play in the NHL for the first time. He responded by scoring a late goal Friday against the Pens, then again Saturday.
“They traveled so far and you want them to enjoy it,” he said, smiling. “To see two goals, that doesn’t happen often with me.”
Nestrasil has four goals in the past four games, scoring twice in a road win at Winnipeg.
The Canes led 1-0 after the first Saturday, getting the goal from fourth-line winger Riley Nash, a healthy scratch against the Pens. Then came a fast-paced second period in which seven goals were scored.
Hanifin gave the Canes a 2-0 lead with a shot from the point that glanced off the Isles’ Casey Cizikas in front of goalie Jaroslav Halak.
After Versteeg scored off a Di Giuseppe centering pass, Nestrasil struck off the rush off a pass from Joakim Nordstrom.
The Islanders answered with two goals in 94 seconds. John Tavares scored off the rush and Leddy on the power play.
Nordstrom and the Isles’ Travis Hamonic soon dropped the gloves to tangle. It was during that stoppage that Ward signaled to the bench to come out.
Rask eased the tension level for Canes fans — and Peters — by scoring both of his goals in the last 1:23 of the second for a 6-2 lead.
Lack, who last played Feb. 3 at Calgary, allowed a third-period goal to Matt Martin but the Canes finished it out.