The left winger, who switched to center on the top line with the
absence of injured Eric Staal, scored his 20th goal of the season
with 3:31 left Sunday, and the Carolina Hurricanes extended their
season-best winning streak to four straight with a 2-1 victory over
the Nashville Predators.
Skinner scored 31 goals to win the Calder Trophy as the league's top
rookie in 2010-11, but he had a combined 33 goals in 106 games over
the past two injury-plagued seasons. He has 16 goals in his past 16
games, 20 in 32 games so far this season.
The Canadian team will be named Tuesday.
"As his coach, I would like to push for him," Carolina's Kirk Muller
said. "It really comes down to he's a dynamic player, he's an
opportunist, he's a game-breaking kind of guy. If you give him one
chance (in a game), he can make the difference. If they are looking
for a person to add to their team like that, he's pretty darn hot."
Skinner, 21, downplayed the possibility of making the Canadian
"It's not in my control," he said. "I can't worry too much about it.
Right now we're just trying to keep this thing going for our team.
They are going to have a great team whoever is on it, so it will be
cool to watch."
Each of Carolina's victories during its four-game winning streak was
by one goal.
Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin won his third straight over a
four-day period since returning from a bad ankle sprain that
sidelined him for 32 games. He stopped 31 of 32 shots as Nashville
(18-18-6) saw its streak of registering at least one point in four
consecutive games halted.
Skinner's game-winning goal — his team-leading fourth of the season — came from the right circle as Carolina (18-16-9) kept late
pressure on the Predators. An assist on Carolina's first goal also
gave Skinner his seventh multi-point game during his hot 16-game
"He keeps on ticking," Muller said of Skinner. "I'm really happy for
him, but I'm very happy for our hockey team. He's scoring, but he's
scoring clutch goals. That's a difference as well."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of Skinner's goal, "You have to
save those. That was not much of a shot at all. We put ourselves in
a position to get some points. We just needed a save."
[to top of second column]
Hurricanes right winger Alexander Semin collected his sixth
goal of the season 4:28 into the game. It was somewhat of a
fluke play, as he banked the puck from behind the goal line off
the back of Nashville goalie Carter Hutton, who fell to 0-5-1 in
his past six games. Hutton, who made 23 saves Sunday, hasn't
registered a victory since Dec. 14.
"The guys that we needed to score in a grinding type of game,
three games in four nights, came through for us," Muller said.
After a scoreless second period, the Predators tied the score at
1-1 with 13:14 left and Carolina defenseman Ryan Murphy in the
penalty box for interference. Khudobin made an initial save but
got caught out of his net and couldn't scramble back in time to
stop a shot by right winger Patric Hornqvist, who scored his
ninth of the season.
Center Mike Fisher recorded the primary assist for his 10th
point in the past five games.
The Hurricanes, already playing without leading scorer Staal
(lower-body injury), received a scare late in the second when
Skinner was hit in the face with the puck on a clearing pass in
the neutral zone and left the ice. Skinner, who has 33 points in
32 games, returned and started the third period.
"Luckily it hit my visor and it bounced down and hit me just
under my nose," he said. "I have a little bit of a fat lip, but
NOTES: Nashville remains the only team in the NHL yet to allow a
short-handed goal. ... Carolina C Eric Staal saw his consecutive
game streak end at 191 with a lower-body injury. The Hurricanes'
captain played a season-low 9:48 after leaving the New York
Islanders game Saturday night. ... Former Montreal and Colorado
RW Aaron Palushaj made his Carolina debut. ... Hurricanes D Jay
Harrison (concussion) was activated after missing six games but
was scratched. ... Carolina G Cam Ward was placed on the injured
reserve list with a lower body injury, retroactive to Dec. 31.
... Nashville G Pekka Rinne missed his 33rd consecutive game
with a hip injury. ... Hurricanes LW Jeff Skinner extended his
point streak to five straight.
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