RALEIGH Jeff Skinner had three points for the second straight night and fourth time this season, and both he and Brock McGinn scored twice in Carolina’s 5-2 win over Buffalo Friday at PNC Arena.Skinner got his two tallies 55 seconds apart early in the second period to push the Hurricanes ahead and they never looked back, sweeping the season series with their third win in the final meeting between the teams.”You never really want to get off to a bad start, but that’s good for the confidence in the room that we can be in a game and when things aren’t going well early for us we can still find ways to get the job done,” Skinner said of the Hurricanes trailing 1-0 after the first period.Skinner got his first of the night and 300th point of his NHL career 1:48 into the second period. Jordan Staal sprung Carolina into the Buffalo zone, and Derek Ryan fed Skinner for a shot that trickled through Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson to tie the game.Less than a minute later, Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk made a two-line pass to Skinner and the Hurricanes sniper rang the far post past Nilsson who was starting on consecutive nights for just the second time in his NHL career for his 17th of the season and a 2-1 advantage. “Skinny got us going on the first for sure, good way to get your 300th and then follow it right up,” coach Bill Peters said. “I thought he was dangerous, he got us on the power play in the first period taking it hard to the net also, so a lot of good things.”Carolina goalie Cam Ward, starting his 18th straight game and 600th of his career, then responded to Buffalo’s surge after Carolina (20-15-7) got ahead, making a two-pad stack save on Ryan O’Reilly to keep the Hurricanes up.That gave the Carolina the chance to extend their lead.Hurricanes winger Elias Lindholm dipped and ducked around Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on the side boards and charged his way to the net, firing a shot and creating a rebound off Nilsson that McGinn collected and stuffed past the Sabres goalie for Carolina’s third goal of the game and his third of the season just 6:51 into the second.Buffalo (16-17-9) got back within one when, on a Carolina power play, Ward failed to rim the puck around the Hurricanes’ boards and Sabres captain Brian Gionta finished a wraparound at 11:49 for a shorthanded goal and a one-goal deficit. “Just a big mistake on my part,” Ward, who had 36 saves, said. “I said before, right there and then that’s a test mentally. Either you can let that change the momentum of the game, change the way that you’re playing, but I didn’t let that affect me. I felt really comfortable and confident in the net, and I wasn’t going to let that mishap change the way that I moved on from there.”McGinn then got another insurance goal, driving the front of the net while Staal circled behind it, receiving a pass right in front and one-timing it for a 5-2 lead. McGinn’s two goals matched his output in his first 25 games this season.”We’re a very fast, skilled team, and I think going into that second period we did a really good job with that continuing playing a fast game, just a transitional game there,” McGinn said. “And I think it really showed in the second and third with our goals.”Notes: Carolina is now 13-1-1 in its last 15 home games. … With 47 points, Carolina sits three points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. … The Carolina power play continued to struggle, going 0 for 4, and allowed a shorthanded goal. … Staal had two assists, giving him six points (one goal, five assists) in his past five games. … The Hurricanes’ No. 1-ranked penalty kill stopped two Buffalo power plays, allowing just two shots. … Sabres center Sam Reinhart was a minus-4. … Brett Pesce, who was a game-time decision due to not feeling well, played a season-low 16:22. … Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons lost eight of night faceoffs. … William Carrier had Buffalo’s first goal, his third of the season, 4:24 into the game off a Jaccob Slavin turnover.
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