Skinner scores 2 to lead Hurricanes past Predators
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As Jeff Skinner goes, often times so go the Carolina Hurricanes.
Skinner was on his game Saturday night, scoring in each of the first two periods to lead Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators. It was Skinner’s fifth multi-goal game and sixth multi-point effort of the season, and gave him 25 goals for the fourth time in his seven-year career.
Jordan Staal added a goal and an assist while Jaccob Slavin had two assists for Carolina, which swept the two-game season series and snapped Nashville’s three-game winning streak. Elias Lindholm scored a short-handed empty-netter with 25.6 seconds to go.
“I thought we were dangerous,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “I thought we could have had more than the three and the empty-netter. I thought we had really good looks and I like the way we managed the puck. We had contributions from the four lines.”
Carolina improved to 15-1-3 this season on nights when Skinner gets a goal.
The Hurricanes won the teams’ other meeting, 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 5 in Nashville.
Eddie Lack, starting his second straight game, stopped 27 shots for his first two-game winning streak with Carolina. The Hurricanes improved to 4-0-2 in their last six games.
“The boys came out flying,” said Lack, who was in goal for the 3-1 win over Minnesota on Thursday but was out for nearly three months earlier this season under concussion protocols. “It’s always nicer to work with a lead. For sure this is the best that I’ve felt this year. I’m seeing the puck well and working good. It was more like desperation last game, but this game I felt more comfortable.”
Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros had 33 saves.
Forsberg has 13 goals and six assists in his last 13 games.
“They were quicker than us, they worked harder in the areas than we were,” said Nashville coach Peter Laviolette, who was the Hurricanes’ coach from 2003-08 including for the 2006 Stanley Cup. “We let two points out the door tonight, so we shouldn’t just dust it off like it’s nothing. We’ve got to be better than what we played tonight. I don’t think it was good.”
Staal put the Hurricanes ahead just 29 seconds into the game, Carolina’s fastest goal of the season. Slavin had the sole assist from the left point.
Skinner then doubled the lead at 8:59, beating Saros over the left shoulder from the right circle after receiving Lee Stempniak’s pass from behind the net.
Arvidsson halved the lead at 5:38 of the second on an assist from Ryan Ellis, beating Lack from an unlikely angle on the goal line below the right circle.
Skinner made it 3-1 with 6:36 left in the middle period, picking up the puck in the crease and backhanding it over Saros glove side for his 25th of the season.
“Jordan got a big goal to start the game, and we were able to build off of it,” Skinner said. “Stemper made a good play on my first goal, and then on the second one Slavs (Slavin) made a nice play to me. I missed the first tip and fortunately it bounced the right way. It’s always nice to be able to contribute.”
Forsberg cut the lead to one with the Predators’ net empty and 1:49 left in the game. But Lindholm sealed the result on an assist from Sebastian Aho in the closing seconds.
NOTES: The Hurricanes have never shut out Nashville in 24 all-time meetings. ... Slavin’s two assists gave him a career-high 30 points this season. ... Skinner’s second goal gave him 315 points and put him one ahead of Sami Kapanen for seventh on the Hurricanes’ career list since the club moved Hartford to North Carolina. ... Lindholm has points in six straight games. ... Stempniak is now on a four-game assist streak. ... Arvidsson is on a four-game point streak. ... Carolina LW Valentin Zykov (upper body) missed his fourth straight game while C Jay McClement (lower body) missed his second straight. D Matt Tennyson was a healthy extra. ... Nashville LW Vernon Fiddler (upper body) missed his fifth straight game. Teammates C Craig Smith, LW Harry Zolnierczyk, D Anthony Bitetto and D Brad Hunt were healthy scratches.
Predators: Host Arizona on Monday night to open a three-game homestand.
Hurricanes: Visit Philadelphia on Sunday night in the opener of a four-game road trip.