GLENDALE, Ariz. - Jeff Skinner, the reigning NHL First Star of the Week, is apparently seeking re-election. His running mates aren't doing badly either.
The Carolina Hurricanes' forward snapped a 1-1 tie at 3:00 of the third period with his eighth goal in the past seven games, leading his team to a 3-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
Linemate Eric Staal added an empty-net goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who snapped a three-game losing streak and finished a tough four-game Western road trip with a 1-1-2 record.
Staal won a faceoff in the Phoenix zone and Skinner pounced on it, snapping a wrist shot over Phoenix goalie Mike Smith's shoulder.
"It was lying at Eric's feet and I just tried to pull it out and put it on net and it found its way in," said Skinner, who leads the Hurricanes with 12 goals. "When you're getting chances, that's the way it goes sometimes.
"We're creating chances as a line and I've been lucky to capitalize on a few."
Actually, it's been more than a few. Since Skinner returned from injured reserve on Nov. 21, his line with Staal and Tuomo Ruutu to score 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in the past 13 games.
Skinner followed his two-goal game against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 3 with a hat trick against the Nashville Predators two nights later. He has goals in three straight games.
"He just resembles what our group is all about right now about staying true to the system," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said of Skinner. "We have been resilient, battling away and waiting for that great opportunity."
Carolina's Nathan Gerbe tied the game in the second period, and goalie Justin Peters made 37 saves to extend his streak of allowing two goals or fewer to six games. Peters' two biggest saves came on a shorthanded breakaway by Antoine Vermette late in the second period and a close-in shot by Mike Ribeiro with less than five minutes left in regulation.
"Justin keeps ticking along here," Muller said. "We talk about timely goals; he made some really timely saves. He looks real confident and the guys have confidence in him. He's a big part of the win."
Smith finished with 30 saves for Phoenix, which is 1-3-1 in its past five games at Jobing.com Arena since starting the season 9-0-1.
"Every play counts and it came down to one faceoff and one loose puck that we lost and it ends up that's the one that's the difference in the game," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We had some good chances, some chances to capitalize in the third and we didn't do it."
The Coyotes start a four-game road trip Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Paul Bissonnette broke a 71-game scoring drought with a goal 6:14 into the game to put Phoenix ahead early. Bissonnette deflected Connor Murphy's pass-shot from the point past Peters on the glove side.
Bissonnette's sixth point of the season came on his first goal in more than two years. He had not scored since Nov. 19, 2011, against the Buffalo Sabres. His most recent goal at home was nearly four years ago, on Jan. 19, 2010, against the New York Islanders.
The Coyotes had been 10-0-0 when leading after the first period, but they couldn't hold the lead this time after failing to add to their advantage.
The Hurricanes tied the game 8:50 into the second period. During a delayed penalty, Gerbe opted to hold the puck on a 2-on-1 break with Staal and steered it around Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle before picking out the right corner with a wrist shot for his seventh goal.
"We needed those two points and we kind of beat ourselves," Phoenix forward Rob Klinkhammer said. "We didn't get a ton of Grade-A chances and we weren't hard enough around the net. You give them credit, they found a way to get a couple of goals and they shut us down."
Carolina had been outscored 34-23 in the third period this season, but Peters made all the big stops and the Hurricanes held the Coyotes in check while nursing their slim lead before Staal hit the empty net with 5.8 seconds remaining.
"Petey made some huge saves for us and some guys made some big blocks," Skinner said. "All six defensemen were solid for us."
|Back to top ↑|