RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t afford yet another season-opening loss. Some timely scoring from two role players helped deliver a much-needed victory.
Anthony Stewart and Jiri Tlusty scored in the third period to help Carolina beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 on Wednesday night for their first victory.
Joni Pitkanen scored on the power play and Cam Ward made 26 saves for the Hurricanes, who never trailed and avoided matching their worst start since the lockout.
“We’re talking about the fourth game of the year, but we did treat it like a must-win game,” Ward said. “It’s important that we get a win and feel good about ourselves and know what it’s like to win hockey games. We can build from a game like tonight. There’s a lot of great positives that you can take away from it.”
Especially for Tlusty and Stewart, left wings on the Hurricanes’ third and fourth lines.
“Teams are going to key on those two (top) offensive lines that we have,” coach Paul Maurice said. “The big goal for me is Stewart’s goal … confidence-wise for that line and for me wanting to put them on the ice in a tight game. They’ve had some offense there, and if we can get comfortable with four lines that can play, we’re going to be able to play in these kinds of games.”
Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand scored and Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots for the Bruins, who have lost two straight and three of four. Each loss has been decided by one goal.
“We’re not that far off,” Thomas said. “The difference between us having the results we want and the way it happened tonight, for example, isn’t that far off.”
The reigning Stanley Cup champions’ power-play unit remained punchless. Boston came up empty on five chances with the man advantage to drop to 1 for 18 for the season.
“We can create some more chances and more scoring opportunities,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “We just have to do the little things right, but most of all, we have to outwork the four guys on the other side.”
The Bruins — who were held scoreless through two periods and were in danger of being shut out in consecutive games for the first time since 2009 — twice cut Carolina’s lead to one in the third.
First, Seguin — who replaced the injured David Krejci at center on Boston’s No. 1 line — took a nice touch pass from Nathan Horton and whipped a shot past Ward with 15:53 left.
Tlusty followed with a goal that put Carolina up 3-1 with 6:28 left. Marchand took a feed from Patrice Bergeron in the circle and one-timed it past Ward with 3:25 remaining.
Ward was strong after that, turning aside a blast by Milan Lucic in the final minute to preserve the victory and help the Hurricanes avoid equaling their 0-3-1 start in 2006.
“Our confidence was, you could say, a little bit down,” Stewart said. “But we kept with it.”
Pitkanen put the Hurricanes up 42 seconds into the second and with 18 seconds left on a hooking minor to Chris Kelly. Pitkanen yo-yoed the puck in the left circle for several seconds — long enough that some fans were screaming for him to shoot it — before he whipped a shot that got past Thomas. His first goal of the season was just Carolina’s third on the power play this season.
Stewart made it 2-0 with 16:18 left, when his shot went through traffic and past an obstructed Thomas, who said both shots were deflected.
“The first (goal) was going wide, and then it hits off a skate — that happens when you throw it back door from there,” Thomas said. “If anything, we should start doing the same thing more often. It’s going to go off the other team’s skates. I’m not sure what it hit on the second one. It was just a confusing little shot.”
NOTES: Carolina D Tomas Kaberle assisted on Pitkanen’s goal for his first point with the Hurricanes. He helped the Bruins win the Cup before signing with the Hurricanes over the summer. … Tempers flared late in the first when Carolina C Jeff Skinner was taken down near the net by Boston D Adam McQuaid. … Tyler Hansbrough, the Indiana Pacers forward and former North Carolina star, and college teammate Bobby Frasor watched the game from a suite — and, when they were shown on the scoreboard, were booed.
Avalanche 3, Blue Jackets 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gabriel Landeskog scored his first NHL goal with 40 seconds left and Matt Duchene’s shootout goal was the difference in the Colorado Avalanche’s 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night before 8,986, the smallest crowd to watch a regular-season game at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus is 0-3-1 this season.
In the shootout, Milan Hejduk matched the goal of Rick Nash, who had a goal and an assist for Columbus. Shooting second, Duchene beat Steve Mason through the leg pads. Mason stopped 30 shots in regulation and overtime.
Semyon Varlamov, who finished with 31 saves, slid to stop Jeff Carter’s shot to secure the victory.
T.J. Galiardi also scored for Colorado, while Radek Martinek had the other Columbus goal.
It was the second game in three nights — both at home — that the Blue Jackets led by a goal in the third period and couldn’t hang on.
The Blue Jackets were 0 for 4 on the power play and are 0 for 20 on the season with a man advantage.
Martinek provided not only the first goal by a Columbus defenseman this season but his first in a Blue Jackets uniform — on their only shot of the third period. An offseason free-agent signing, he was positioned at the right point when he took a pass from Vinny Prospal, who was near the corner boards. Martinek’s hard one-timer sailed over Varlamov’s shoulder on the stick side for a 2-1 l ead.
But the Blue Jackets went the last 18:44 of the third period and the next 22:36 including overtime without a shot as the Avalanche stepped up the pressure on Mason. He was up to the task, twice diving onto the ice to cover loose pucks in the crease.
The Avalanche finally broke through in the final minute of regulation. Landeskog notched his first goal (in his third game) on a redirect. Defenseman Jan Hejda, who the Blue Jackets declined to re-sign in the offseason, fired a slap shot from the left point into heavy congestion in front that included two teammates and two defensemen clogging the ice in front of Mason. The puck went in o ff Landeskog.
Each team had two shots in the overtime, neither a prime scoring chance.
The Avalanche opened the scoring on Galiardi’s wrister through traffic. Shane O’Brien threw the puck on net and it rebounded off a Blue Jacket player to Galiardi for a wrister from near the right circle. Mason appeared to stop the shot, but it slipped under his left shoulder and over the goal line.
An ugly giveaway by Colorado’s Jay McClement handed the puck to Nash in the high slot. He squeezed off a shot on Varlamov, who made the stop. But Nash stayed on it to tap in his own rebound.
The Blue Jackets had another good scoring chance later in the second period. On a rush, Nash saucered a pass that Carter redirected. The puck drifted high in the air with Varlamov using the butt end of his stick to deflect it away.
NOTES: The arena wasn’t very full but the press box sure was: There were 13 scouts from nine teams (other than the teams involved) at the game. … The Blue Jackets had six giveaways to none for the Avalanche in the opening period.