Hurricanes close preseason with home shootout win over Capitals

Justin Faulk leaves game, but coach calls it precautionary

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes took a 3-2 shootout win Friday in Raleigh in their final preseason game, but any joy in closing out the preseason with a victory was overshadowed by concern for No. 1 defenseman Justin Faulk.Jaccob Slavin was the third Hurricanes player to score in the shootout, roofing a backhand past Brayden Holtby to give Carolina the win. Fellow defenseman Noah Hanifin finished with a goal and an assist, scoring on a blast from the left circle for a power play goal and also assisting on Lee Stempniak’s game-opening goal to push the Hurricanes to a 2-0 lead they eventually relinquished.Carolina went nearly two-thirds of the game without Faulk, who played just the beginning of the second period before retreating to the locker room with a lower body injury for the balance of the game. Coach Bill Peters said after the game he expected his star defenseman to be OK. “I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Peters said. “I think he just had a little bit of general soreness and we took him out as a precautionary measure.” Faulk’s injury fogged up an already cloudy situation on defense. Peters announced at Friday’s morning skate that Ryan Murphy, expected to be Carolina’s No. 6 defenseman heading into the preseason, would be out for three to four weeks with a lower body injury. It was the latest setback for Murphy this preseason as he missed time with flu-like symptoms earlier in training camp. But his absence opened the door for others, and Roland McKeown got the start Friday and did not look out of place in his audition for a job on the Hurricanes defense.”You put your best forward and now it’s a wait-and-see game and you make it hard on the staff,” McKeown said after the game.Peters said McKeown would get a week of practice with the team and then they’ll make a decision on who makes the opening night roster.”You gotta know the pro game,” Peters said. “The National Hockey League game is different from junior, it’s different from the American league, and you’ve gotta be able to make plays when there’s plays to be made. I thought [McKeown] did that, I think he’s getting better all the time.”The Hurricanes got on the scoreboard first thanks to a trio of great plays. Hanifin started a rush up the left side, eventually getting behind the Capitals net and feeding Jordan Staal in the right circle. Staal then saucered a pass through the goal paint and Stempniak banged the puck out of midair and in the net past Holtby to make it 1-0 at 5:39 of the second period. Hanifin later added his second goal with the power play goal that sailed cleanly past the Washington goalie.”He was dangerous and that’s kind of what we [saw] at the end of last year. … You could see his skating,” Peters said of Hanifin. “He took off with the puck in front of our bench there in the third, too, and I think he beat all three forwards and the next thing you know we’re in the O zone.”The Hurricanes looked like they might remain goal-starved at 5-on-5 in the first, failing to score in the opening frame despite holding a 13-4 shot advantage. Carolina also had 2:30 minutes of power play time in the first period, courtesy of two Capitals offensive zone penalties. But despite the skewed shots and time with the man advantage, Washington still came closest to scoring when Justin Williams nearly got one past former teammate Cam Ward, ringing a shot off the post on Ward’s stick side.The intensity ramped up about eight minutes into the third when Phil Di Giuseppe flattened Washington defender Taylor Chorney behind the Capitals net. Chorney went to the locker room but returned for the start of the third period, passing a concussion test according to a tweet by Capitals team writer Mike Vogel. Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen challenged Di Giuseppe to a fight at 12:01 of the third, with Niskanen picking up an instigating minor and 10-minute misconduct. “I’m not really a fighter, but I try to be physical and I guess that comes with it,” Di Giuseppe said. “The guy dropped his gloves so I knew it was time.”Niskanen wound up with a cut on cheek, but Di Giuseppe didn’t skate away unscathed: he needed stitches to his hand from one of the landed punches.”I think I got him once but I [messed] up my hand,” he said, though he added the injury — while grisly looking — was not serious.On the ensuing power play Carolina could not push their lead to three, and when Stempniak took a penalty erasing the last 24 seconds of the man advantage it gave Washington an opportunity at 5-on-4.They made it count, with John Carlson one-timing an Evgeny Kuznetsov feed past Ward to make it 2-1 with 9:09 remaining. The Capitals then struck again, with Zach Sanford tying the game 3:31 later by picking the top stick side corner on Ward from right next to the net.Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho — who hit the post earlier in the night — had a 2-on-1 less than a minute after Sanford’s goal, but Teravainen pushed a shot wide on Holtby.Teravainen got another chance in the shootout and finished, joining Slavin and Jeff Skinner in beating Holtby three out of four times. Ward allowed goals to the first two Washington shooters, but stopped Lars Eller and Williams to set up Slavin for the game winner.The Hurricanes finished the preseason 4-2-1 and now look ahead to Thursday, when they’ll face the Jets — and two-time former head coach Paul Maurice — in Winnipeg to kick off the 2016-17 season. It’s the first of four on a Western Conference road swing for Carolina, who will then play at Philadelphia and Detroit before finally making their regular season home debut in their seventh game and three weeks after Friday’s preseason finale.