RALEIGH — After entering the weekend on a three-game losing streak, the Carolina Hurricanes like where they are now.
“Everyone’s in a good state of mind,” said head coach Bill Peters. “They’ll get a day off tomorrow — they’ve earned it We’ve been home for a long stretch of time. My yard’s never looked better.”
With one game still to go on the team’s eight-game homestand, the Canes knocked off Colorado, 3-1, on Saturday night, following up Friday’s win over Vancouver.
The victory put the Hurricanes back into the playoff mix, by a point.
“That’s huge,” said goalie Cam Ward. “Every day, I think everybody’s looking at the standings. We’ve got to take care of business right now. You can’t wait until you have 10 games left.”
More than the current playoff positioning, however, Peters is pleased with the way the team is earning its points.
“I’d rather be playing well and not care if I’m in by one or out by two or have games in hand,” he said. “I’d rather be playing well and building towards something. That’s what we’re doing.”
The Hurricanes did it on Saturday by overcoming early adversity. Twelve minutes into the game, Justin Faulk was stripped of the puck, leading to a Colorado three-on-one. Ward was able to stuff the shot, however, keeping the game scoreless.
“That was big time,” Peters said. “That’s a huge save. That’s electric. It’s like when we score — the same type of feeling.”
“You look at the moment in the game,” Ward said. “We had a bit of a breakdown leading to the three-on-one. There’s momentum in games. Make a save like that, it gets guys regrouped and fired up a bit too.”
That momentum seemed to dissipate five minutes later, when Colorado’s Tyson Barrie scored the game’s first goal. It took the Hurricanes all of 18 seconds to respond, however.
Elias Lindholm stripped Barrie behind the Avalanche net and passed the puck out to Brock McGinn, who knocked it in to tie the game. It was Lindholm’s 16th assist of the year and the third straight game in which he’s registered a point. McGinn recorded his ninth goal on the year.
“That first period, we were really buzzing around there,” McGinn said. “Just going down 1-0, I think we put our foot on the pedal and did a good job of responding. (Lindholm) did a great job there picking the spot behind the net and finding me in the front, and I was able to bang it in.”
“You get scored on, you always wonder how the team’s going to respond,” Ward said. “To score the next shift — that cancels out that one, and you’re able to start off fresh again.”
Ward wouldn’t give up another goal for the rest of the evening, but the adversity kept coming. Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen got called for tripping 27 seconds into the second period. Four minutes later, he got a four-minute double minor for high sticking.
The Hurricanes, who haven’t allowed a power play goal since before the All-Star Break, killed off both of them.
“That four-minute penalty, we did a good job of killing that off. It built momentum,” McGinn said. “I think we’re just out working the power play out there, following our systems, working as a four-man unit out there, Getting those saves from Ward definitely helps.”
Peters thought the extended time spent killing penalties got the offense off its game in the second period, and the game went to the third, still tied at one.
That’s when Lindholm and McGinn reprised their first-period heroics with a near replica of the game-tying goal.
Again, Lindholm got the puck behind the Colorado goal, and again, he found McGinn out front. McGinn sent it home to give the Hurricanes the lead 35 seconds into the period.
“They scored during four-on-four, we come right back and score four-on-four,” Peters said. “Then we score on the first shift of the third period. Those are big moments in the game.”
Jeff Skinner added an insurance goal on a rebound of a Lee Stempniak shot with 6:40 remaining. It was Skinner’s first goal since January 25, seven games ago.
“He’s a guy that wants to score goals,” Ward said. “That’s his forte. It was great to see him get that one.”
It helped the Hurricanes get some momentum — and a day off — heading into the end of the homestand.
“I like the effort from everybody,” Peters said. “Everyone contributed. It was a complete effort.”