Goaltender Anton Khudobin stopped 26 shots and left winger Jeff
Skinner notched his team-leading sixth game-winning goal as the
Hurricanes defeated St. Louis 3-1 on Friday night, halting the
Blues' three-game winning streak.
The Hurricanes (25-20-9) improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games,
posting a 20-point month, trailing only the Stanley Cup season of
2005-06 for the team's best-ever January.
And the victory was accomplished against one of the NHL elite teams,
against a team that has outscored opponents 60-31 in the third
"We have a lot of respect for that team ... they are good," said
Carolina coach Kirk Muller. "We said to ourselves that we had to
bring our A game to this one if we wanted some good results. Right
from the start I felt our guys were focused and came out hard and we
put together a real good 60 minutes."
Right winger Alexander Semin scored into an empty net with 1:04 left
to seal it for Carolina with his 13th goal of the season.
Meanwhile, St. Louis (36-12-5), which managed just 17 shots through
two periods, came into the game 17-3-1 this season against the
Eastern Conference, but lost to Carolina and the New Jersey Devils
within the last 10 days for only the team' third regulation road
losses since Dec. 2.
"We talked about playing a high tempo game and skating, and it was
important to put the pucks in the right areas against them," Muller
said. "We had to make this game 200 feet because if you have
turnovers they come right back at you."
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said his team didn't have a very good
response to Carolina's tight-checking game.
"They were on top of us and we weren't communicating or hungry,"
Hitchcock said. "We had the body language that it was too hard."
Khudobin held the NHL's second-leading scoring team at bay with
several timely saves, improving to 12-4 this season while not
allowing more than three goals in any of his 17 appearances.
"I get ready for every game just like any other game. To be honest I
didn't know they are second in scoring, but it's great to stop a
team like this," Khudobin said. "All of our defensemen and forwards
have been playing great lately and I really didn't face a lot of
tough shots. The last five or six games have been easier for me."
[to top of second column]
St. Louis hit the post twice during a 40-second span starting with
defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's shot with 2:02 left, but the Blues
couldn't capitalize down the stretch.
"Sometimes it happens in a game like that, and at the end
everybody was expecting them to come hard," Khudobin said.
Carolina led going into the third period for just the 18th time
in 54 games thanks to Skinner's team-leading 23rd goal of the
season that made it 2-1. He scored 1:51 into the second period
off a faceoff won by center Jordan Staal. It was just Skinner's
second goal in the last 10 games after he had been on a tear
with 17 during a 17-game span.
"When we are playing our game speed is a big part of it and we
wanted to come out and have a good start because if you don't
that's a team that can really jump on you and it's tough to get
back into the game," said Skinner, who finished with a team-best
six shots on St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak. "It was a good
start and we were able to maintain it."
The two teams traded power-play goals in the first period.
Carolina left winger Nathan Gerbe scored his 12th of the season
with a one-timer from the right circle after taking a cross-ice
pass from the left point from defenseman and former Buffalo
teammate Andrej Sekera. St. Louis center David Backes scored
just 12 seconds into a man-advantage opportunity, netting his
18th goal of the season and first in 11 games.
NOTES: St. Louis last won in Carolina on Oct. 28, 2009. ...
Injured Carolina G Cam Ward was in the net for the Charlotte
Checkers at Lake Erie on Friday night in his first minor league
action since the 2005-06 season. He is on a conditioning stint
with the AHL club after missing 15 games with a lower-body
injury. ... Carolina RW Patrick Dwyer returned to the lineup
after missing four games with an upper-body injury. ... The
Hurricanes scored first for just the 20th time in 54 games. ...
St. Louis C David Backes scored his 150th career goal. ...
Carolina LW Nathan Gerbe's goal total of 12 is one more than his
last two seasons combined for Buffalo — a span of 104 games.
... The Hurricanes began a four-game homestand prior to the
Olympic break. ... The Blues, 28th in the NHL in penalty
minutes, took three minors in the first 11:25 on Friday night.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.