Darling performance helps ‘Canes win 2nd straight
CALGARY, Alberta — Scott Darling was 3:28 away from recording his first shutout for the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Although he allowed a late goal to Sean Monahan, Darling still did enough to backstop the Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“It’s huge, but it’s the NHL,” said Darling, who made 25 saves to pick up his second win of the season. “It’s not over until it’s over. They didn’t quit. I’ve got to make that save on that one, but luckily the guys shut it down after that and we got the two points.”
Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (3-1-1), while Justin Williams scored the game-winning goal on a third-period power play.
“Especially on the road, you go into the third period with a one-goal lead, you want to try to close teams out and find ways to win those,” said Skinner, who was named the game’s first star. “That’s something we can use to build confidence.”
The Hurricanes, who have won two games in a row, finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Flames (4-3-0) failed to score on their lone chance with the man advantage.
“Penalties happen in a game,” said Monahan, who notched his team-leading fourth goal of the season to spoil Darling’s shutout bid. “It’s an emotional game and stuff, but when you take that many (penalties) it’s going to cost you and I think it showed again tonight. When you get those many penalties, there’s guys sitting on the bench and it takes the team out of synch, so I think we’ve got to clean that up. We know we’re a good team, so we’ve got to stay out of the box.”
Flames goaltender Mike Smith stopped 31 shots in his seventh straight start.
Just past the midway mark of the opening frame, Calgary left winger Kris Versteeg fell to the ice after taking a hard shot off the stick of Skinner to his right leg. Just seconds later, Skinner one-timed another shot toward the net that hit Versteeg in the head/neck area.
Although he had to be helped off the ice, Versteeg returned to the ice in the second period.
Skinner opened the scoring at 4:48 of the second when he outbattled Calgary left winger Johnny Gaudreau for the puck along the boards before firing a slap shot to the top corner past Smith, who was screened by defenseman Michael Stone on the play.
“I saw the d-man come out and I just tried to get it by him and on net and fortunately it went for me,” Skinner said.
With Matthew Tkachuk serving a roughing penalty for the Flames, Williams took a pass from Skinner and snapped a shot just over Smith’s glove and into the Calgary net to put Carolina up 2-0 at 1:09 of the third period.
“I take full responsibility for tonight,” Tkachuk said. “It’s uncalled for. That was stupid — uncalled for at the end of the period. Stuff like that, whether you think it’s a penalty or not, you can’t put yourself in that position.”
Jaromir Jagr, playing on Calgary’s top line with Gaudreau and Monahan, had a great chance to get the Flames on the board at 8:47 of the third, but Darling made a nice glove save to deny the veteran 45-year-old right winger.
“Those are the ones you just get desperate and throw some body parts at,” Darling said. “It’s pretty cool it was him. I didn’t know it at the time. He’s Jaromir Jagr. It’s cool to say you made a save on him.”
Monahan took a pass from Gaudreau in the slot and snapped a shot over Darling’s left shoulder at 16:32 of the third, but the Flames weren’t able to notch the equalizer.
“Not until late in the third did we really start to try and move the puck,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “That’s what happens when a team is holding the lead. I thought we were nonchalant in some of our breakouts, we could have been more direct. We couldn’t get any rhythm with the penalties and I didn’t think we were very good at executing.”
NOTES: After sitting out Saturday’s 5-2 road victory for the Flames over the Vancouver Canucks with a groin injury, RW Micheal Ferland returned to Calgary’s lineup against Carolina and played on a line with C Sam Bennett and LW Kris Versteeg. ... The Flames scratched C Curtis Lazar, C Freddie Hamilton and D Brett Kulak, the latter being a healthy scratch in all seven of Calgary’s games. ... The Hurricanes re-assigned D Trevor Carrick to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday. ... Carolina scratched C Janne Kuokkanen, C Martin Necas and D Klas Dahlbeck.