RALEIGH — The Hurricanes and Blues played 52 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey before Carolina got the game’s first power play opportunity in a tied third period.
It was St. Louis that benefitted.
The Hurricanes did nothing with the two minutes of man-advantage time they received courtesy of a tripping penalty on St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, and the Blues rallied on the ensuing shift.
“We needed to be better. We didn’t execute very well there at all,” coach Bill Peters said. “And then they get momentum from that kill and then score the game-winner on the next shift.”
Carolina goalie Cam Ward stopped shots from Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz before Brayden Schenn banged in a rebound for game-winner in a 2-1 decision at PNC Arena.
It spoiled a solid performance from Ward (32 saves), who was making his first start at home since the team signed Scott Darling to be its new No. 1 goalie.
“That’s my job, to come in and to try to contribute and give your team a chance,” Ward said. “I thought it was right there, but obviously we all play this game to win hockey games and it would’ve been nice to get one tonight.”
Ward held on to a scoreless tie until St. Blues finally broke the ice with 5:22 left in the second period. The Blues set up shop in the Hurricanes end for a long shift and fired a point shot that Ward stopped, but the rebound kicked right to Dmitrij Jaskin who knocked it in for his first goal of the season.
The Hurricanes answered quickly.
Just over a minute later, Justin Williams intercepted a pass in the neutral zone to start a 2-on-1 rush. Williams drove the net on Joel Edmundson, spun and rolled over the defender while passing the puck to Jeff Skinner for a backhand goal and a 1-1 tie.
“It was just [I] ran out of options, really,” Williams said of his tumbling assist. “I wanted to pass first and it [was taken] away. And then I wanted to shoot, then I wanted to toe drag and then at the last minute I figured I’d try and get it over. He’s a goal scorer — you try to get him the puck the best you can.”
The Hurricanes fed off that momentum but could not move ahead in the second. Then with eight minutes left they got the power play chance that wound up being pivotal for the wrong reasons.
“Listen, that was obviously a big turning point,” Williams said, “It would have been a big turning point for us, and it was for them. They killed, scored right after. You know, I’m part of the power play unit and that was a frustrating one for sure.”
Peters said the team would search for power play answers before Sunday’s 5 p.m. home game against the Ducks.
“We’ll have to look at it and talk about it,” he said.
The power play was without Teuvo Teravainen, who left the game early in the second period after a neutral zone collision with St. Louis’ Alexander Steen that seemingly left the Carolina winger favoring his shoulder.
When asked if Teravainen suffered a concussion, Peters said, “I think it was an upper body injury, not a head at all.” He said rookie Janne Kuokkanen would play Sunday if Teravainen is unavailable.
Sunday will be the third game in four nights for the Hurricanes. Yet rather than looking like a team that played the night before, the Hurricanes played Friday’s first period as if they had a week off. Turnovers and sloppy passes gave the Blues the chances they converted on in a 5-2 home win over Calgary on Wednesday, but Carolina escaped the first with a scoreless tie.
Ward, starting his second game of the season, looked solid in net. In a game that was played almost exclusively at 5 on 5, Ward was in control of rebounds and made several key stops to keep the battle of backup goalies close.
Fatigue seemed to set in during the final frame, when St. Louis outshot Carolina 14-7 and eventually swarmed Ward on the deciding goal following the Hurricanes’ dismal power play.
The Blues got equally solid play from Carter Hutton, who made 26 stops to earn the win and improved to 3-0 on the season.
Notes: This was just the fourth time in their careers that Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce finished minus-2 in the same game. Carolina is 0-3-1 in those games. … The Hurricanes did not take a penalty in the game. … Skinner’s goal was his sixth of the season, 24 percent of Carolina’s 25 goals this season. … Justin Williams’ 20:03 of ice time is a season high. It’s the most he’s had in a regular season game since he played 21:33 for Washington on Nov. 18, 2016, against the Red Wings and just the third time he’s played more than 20 minutes in a three-period regular season game since the start of the 2013-14 season. … Attendance at PNC Arena was 10,069.