RALEIGH, N.C. – Jussi Jokinen and the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be rolling at the right time. They just hope it’s not too late to make a few moves in the standings—first, out of last place, and then, back into the playoff discussion.
Carolina beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Friday night when Jokinen scored on a deflection with 8:05 left.
Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk scored 3:03 apart in the first period for the Hurricanes, who let a two-goal lead slip away before regrouping to beat the Pacific Division leaders.
The Southeast Division’s cellar-dwellers won their second straight and earned points in their sixth consecutive game. This win opened a stretch of seven of eight games at home, and they’re 10-3-1 in their last 14 on home ice.
“We need to find a way to win close to all games in this home stretch,” Jokinen said. “It’s a great start, but we can’t think too far ahead.”
Dan Boyle and Brent Burns scored in a 2:26 span early in the third to tie it for the Sharks, who fell to 1-2-1 midway through their nine-game road swing and have lost five of seven overall.
“I thought we lacked a lot of energy and jump and determination in the first two periods,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “We didn’t win a lot of races to pucks. We didn’t establish body position around them. They were bigger and stronger than we were, quite frankly, and all of a sudden in the third period, we found it. … That desperation has to be there earlier.”
Justin Peters made 35 saves in his first start since Jan. 7 and third of the season. His first victory came in a battle of the backups against Thomas Greiss, who stopped 22 shots in place of Antti Niemi.
“Everyone’s buying in to the system, and it shows when you’re buying in to something and you get results,” Peters said.
A solid dump-in by Jaroslav Spacek started the sequence that led to Jokinen’s winner. Drayson Bowman cycled the puck out to Jamie McBain at the blue line, and McBain unloaded a blast that Jokinen tipped past Greiss.
“Usually, we practice it, it’s five against zero,” Jokinen said, smiling. “This time it was five other guys to try to defend that play. It’s a tough play, but we were able to get it done and get a big two points.”
The Sharks trailed 2-0 after two periods but tied it fewer than 4 minutes into the third after they received goals from a pair of defencemen.
Boyle struck 1:26 into the third when he snapped the puck past Peters from the back edge of the circles. Burns made it 2-all with 16:08 to play when he took a feed from Dominic Moore and beat the Carolina backup.
Peters stopped the last 13 shots he faced, including a sprawling save—with some help from defenceman Bryan Allen—on Patrick Marleau’s point-blank attempt with about 1:20 left.
“I don’t think we played all that well the first two periods, but we had a lot of chances,” Boyle said. “A lot of 2-on-1s, grade-A chances. Just didn’t bury it when we got our chance. … We were all over them in the third, and unfortunately gave up the one goal. Had tons of chances in the third to get the next one, and we didn’t do it.”
Greiss was in goal one night after McLellan ripped starter Niemi, saying “he wasn’t any good” in a 6-5 overtime loss at Tampa Bay, and Greiss’ solid play gave the Sharks’ coaching staff something to think about.
“We’ll have to sit down and determine who starts next,” McLellan said. “That won’t happen tonight.”
The Sharks didn’t arrive until late Friday morning because foggy conditions in Raleigh on Thursday night kept their flight grounded in Florida, and they fell behind early after allowing a pair of goals.
Skinner put the Hurricanes up 1-0 with 12:29 left in the first with a fluky goal. His shot along the end line clipped the back of Greiss’ skate and went in for the reigning rookie of the year’s 16th goal and fourth in 12 games since returning from a concussion.
Then, Faulk—their latest Calder Trophy candidate—made it a two-goal game just over 3 minutes later on the power play. The rookie defenceman took a pretty backdoor feed from Jiri Tlusty and buried it into an open net.
NOTES: Tlusty has points in six straight games, while Carolina C Eric Staal has points in four in a row. … Moore made his debut with San Jose, one day after he was acquired in a trade with the Lightning. … The Sharks scratched D Douglas Murray, who was hit in the throat with a puck in the Tampa Bay game. … Carolina skated without RW Chad LaRose (upper body).