RALEIGH, N.C. – Jeff Skinner traded a few shoves with some bigger opponents, then delivered the shot of the night by scoring in the shootout.
What the NHL’s youngest player hasn’t done yet is show his age.
Skinner scored the only goal of the shootout and Cam Ward stopped Calgary cold to lift the Carolina Hurricanes past the Flames 6-5 on Tuesday night.
Jussi Jokinen had two goals and an assist in his return to the ice, and Erik Cole, Tuomo Ruutu and Eric Staal also scored for the Hurricanes. They blew a three-goal lead but won their third straight to improve to 6-0-2 in their last eight.
“I think we know we have things to work on (and) I think everyone knows what they are,” Skinner said. “You just are happy to get out of here with the two points and regroup and come back better the next day.”
Jarome Iginla and Niklas Hagman each had a goal and an assist. Jay Bouwmeester, Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque each scored a goal and Olli Jokinen had two assists for the Flames. Their early 2-1 lead evaporated after allowing four straight goals, but they rallied to force extra time—only to drop their fourth straight and second in a row in a shootout.
“I’m not happy with the point. We need to win games,” coach Brent Sutter said. “It was great that we battled back, and we played like we did in the third period, but we should never have a letdown like we did in the second.”
The 18-year-old Skinner, who entered with 32 points to lead all rookies, had an early assist before coming through late with the only goal in the shootout. He deked Henrik Karlsson before snapping the puck high past him for his team-leading third shootout score of the season.
“I want to be a difference-maker in the game, and that’s shooting in the shootout,” Skinner said.
Ward stopped a wrist shot from Alex Tanguay and a backhand from Ales Kotalik before Hagman sent a wrist shot into his pads to end it.
Calgary trailed 5-2 late in the second period but reeled off three goals in an 11-minute span. Hagman started the rally with a slapshot with about three minutes left in the second, Glencross made it a one-goal game 1:31 into the third, and Bourque tied it at five with a wrist shot with 12:21 remaining.
“The third period was a good character period by us, but it’s so frustrating because when you see what you can do when you stick to the game plan and everyone buys in. You see the results you can have,” centre Brendan Morrison said. “But when you don’t do that for a full game, it’s difficult to win in this league.”
Carolina had a chance to win it in overtime, taking the only four shots of the extra session, but came up empty on a power play before Karlsson stuffed Jussi Jokinen from point-blank range with about 10 seconds left.
Ward, who along with Staal will play in the all-star game later this month on home ice, returned after missing two games with a lower body injury and finished with 27 saves for Carolina. Miikka Kiprusoff made just four saves for Calgary, giving up four goals before he was relieved early in the second by Karlsson, who finished with 21 saves.
“What (Karlsson) did in net for us was, he battled,” Sutter said. “And that’s what we want to see with our whole team.”
The Hurricanes appeared to have things under control in the second, scoring two goals seconds after power plays expired and building a three-goal lead.
Cole gave Carolina a 3-2 lead eight seconds after a Calgary penalty expired by poking the puck past Kiprusoff. Then, five seconds after the Hurricanes came up empty on another power play, Staal made it a two-goal game, chasing Kiprusoff by beating him with a backhand with 14 1/2 minutes left.
Jussi Jokinen then stretched it to 5-2 when he deflected the puck past Karlsson with about five minutes left in the second. Jokinen, who missed six games with a lower body injury, tied it at two late in the first with a wrist shot that beat Kiprusoff.
“It’s tough to come back—obviously, you don’t know in what kind of shape you are, but I have worked pretty hard off the ice,” Jokinen said. “It’s not fun, but it pays off when you feel like that and you come back like that.”
Iginla, named an all-star for the sixthtime, registered the 500th assist of his career on Bouwmeester’s goal just over four minutes in. The Calgary captain made it 2-1 later in the first when he backhanded in a rebound for his team-leading 18th.
Notes: Ward was credited with his first assist of the season on Staal’s goal. … Kiprusoff has allowed 11 goals in his last three starts. … An announced crowd of 10,096 braved a winter storm that coated some roads with ice.