Hurricanes spoil Karlsson’s return, beat Senators 5-2
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes keep trying to do their part to preserve their slim playoff hopes.
Phillip Di Giusseppe and Jordan Staal each had a goal and assist to lead the Hurricanes to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Brock McGinn, Noah Hanifin and Jeff Skinner also scored, and Cam Ward stopped 34 shots as Carolina remained nine points behind New Jersey, which also won, for the last wild card in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining.
“Our team’s got a lot of pride. I really believe in our guys and they want to do it right each and every night and not let each other down, so you’ve got to go out and play hard,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said.
Bobby Ryan and Thomas Chabot scored for the Senators, and Mike Condon finished with 19 saves.
Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson made an emotional return to the ice, playing for the first time since he and his wife announced Tuesday that their son Axel had been stillborn. A visibly moved Karlsson waved as he received a huge ovation from the home crowd when announced as part of the Senators’ starting lineup.
“It’s great. You’ve seen it with the fans that everyone was happy to see him. Same with us when we saw him (Saturday) morning we were all happy,” Chabot said. “He’s a big part of our team as you know and the best player on our team so it’s good to have him back. We would have rather had a better game than that for his comeback but it’s just great to have him in the locker room and happy to just have him around.”
Karlsson made a surprise return for the morning skate and his presence meant a lot to his teammates. “Huge,” was how forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau described Karlsson’s return.
“He’s our captain, he’s our best player, he’s our leader and you want to be on the ice when he’s on,” Pageau said. “He’s been there for all of us and we want to be there for him right now. We’re all happy that he was back today.”
Karlsson almost scored when his slap shot went off the post just under four minutes into the game.
McGinn gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with a great tip in the slot off Klas Dahlbeck’s point shot to beat Condon through the legs with 2:41 left in the second period. The goal withstood a challenge for offside by the Senators.
Hanifin and Skinner scored 68 seconds apart to push the lead to 4-1 about midway into the third. Hanifin was left alone at the side of the goal and beat Condon with a wrist shot at 8:29. Skinner then fought off Mike Hoffman as he moved in and beat Condon with a backhand at 9:37.
Chabot scored with 3:26 left to cut the lead to 4-2, before Staal scored into an empty net in the final minute.
“Through the first two periods we didn’t get the bounces on our side. I thought we had chances and put a lot of pucks on net and then obviously in the third they came out and took the lead and it was too far to come back,” Pageau said.
Each team scored in the first period with the Hurricanes grabbing a 1-0 lead at 7:34 when Di Giuseppe beat Condon from a sharp angle.
Ryan tied it at 9:38 as he stood at the top of the crease and tipped Ryan Dzingel’s shot past Ward, who turned aside 11 shots in the period, including two breakaways.
After a turnover, Dzingel had a breakaway but was short on space and time as he only caught up to the puck about 20 feet in front of Ward. Minutes later, Pageau had all kinds of time as he was all alone from the blue line in but Ward made a pad save.
NOTES: Marian Gaborik was a scratch for the Senators. ... Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk and Victor Rask were scratches for the Hurricanes. ... The Hurricanes improved their road record to 16-16-5. ... Ottawa’s Tom Pyatt played in his 400th career game, including his 155th with the Senators. ... Ryan’s first-period goal was his first in 12 games.
Hurricanes; Host Ottawa on Monday night.
Senators: At Carolina on Monday night.