CALGARY - The Carolina Hurricanes recorded their second straight win with a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Jeff Skinner scored his third goal of the season and also recorded the primary assist on Justin Williams' power-play goal in the third period. Scott Darling made 25 saves in his second win of the young season.
Here are five takeaways from tonight's game
Hockey is a fickle sport. The Hurricanes scored three goals in the first period in Edmonton on Tuesday night, but they probably played a more complete 20 minutes in tonight's scoreless first period.
As it turned out, tonight's 2-1 victory was indeed a much more complete game overall than Tuesday's win.
"We're trying to get better every game. We're a team that's trying to make that next step," Williams said. "I thought we played well enough to win tonight and the scoreboard showed that."
"There was a good rhythm and flow to the game," Skinner said. "I think we were able to roll four lines pretty well."
"A lot of things that we can build on from this game tonight," head coach Bill Peters said. "We were a little bit loose in Edmonton, so we tightened up and did a better job and were basically able to roll four lines."
We're just five games into the 2017-18 regular season, so it's tough to accurately articulate just what kind of team the Hurricanes are going to be. The identity of being a hard-working, defensively-sound team is evident, though, and it was on display tonight as the Canes closed out a tight game.
"Our work ethic is second-to-none. Our guys don't stop skating, forechecking or backchecking. We don't give them much," Darling said. "For the most part, we were breaking up plays. Our guys were clogging up the neutral zone, picking off passes, doing everything right. I'm still just amazed by how hard our team skates. It's amazing."
"The effort was there. I thought the effort was outstanding," Peters said. "We can be stifling when we play the right way. We'll continue to work on our game away from the puck, and our execution with the puck will get better as we go."
Skinner continues to find the back of the net, and that's a good sign for the Hurricanes' offense.
In a scoreless second period, Derek Ryan took a shot and Brock McGinn nearly cashed in on the rebound, but the puck hit the outside of the puck and skittered into the corner. Moments later, after the puck worked its way up the wall, Skinner corralled it, stepped up, wound up, fired and scored on a howitzer of a shot.
Video: CAR@CGY: Skinner buries huge slap shot from circle
Skinner ranks first on the team in goals (3) and second in points (4) through five games.
Speaking of offense, how crucial did Williams' third-period power-play goal turn out to be? After Sean Monahan broke Darling's shutout late in the third period, Williams' goal ultimately proved to be the difference.
Up 1-0, the Hurricanes entered the final 20 minutes of regulation with their fifth power play of the match. On the fresh sheet of ice, Skinner worked the puck over to Williams, who buried his shot for his first goal in his second stint with the Canes.
Video: CAR@CGY: Williams beats sprawling Smith for PPG
"We certainly dictated a lot of the play and had the better of them," Williams said. "I thought the power-play goal at the start of the third was big for us because it gave us that little cushion."
"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 a way to win those," Skinner said. "That's something we can use to build confidence."
"We had six power plays and we needed to cash in," Peters said. "The guys did a good job coming out and getting an important goal for us."
It was a battle of large human beings in net tonight, with Darling (6-foot-6, 232 pounds) going head-to-head with Mike Smith (6-foot-4, 215 pounds). Darling took the decision with a sparkling performance in net.
"He played real well. He's big and calm back there. He did a good job moving the puck," Skinner said of his netminder. "He made some big saves at big times, and that's what you need out of your goalie, especially in these tight games."
"He held the fort in the third period. They were pushing," Williams said. "He was great for us."
His best save came on ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr in the third period when Jagr had a crack at a rebound - and he's scored his fair share of goals - but Darling was there to snare the shot with his glove. Later in the period, Johnny Gaudreau attempted a wrap-around, and Darling extended his left pad with authority to punch out the puck.
Video: CAR@CGY: Darling robs Jagr with incredible glove save
"Those are the ones you get desperate and just throw some body parts out," Darling said. "He's Jaromir Jagr. It's cool to say you made a save on him."
Monahan would break the shutout late, but the Canes were able to prevent the Flames from tying the game in the final minutes.
"He was outstanding," Peters said of Darling. "I've liked him each and every game he's played, and he's only going to get better."
"It's the NHL. It's not over until it's over. They didn't quit," Darling said. "I've got to make the save on that one, but luckily the guys shut it down after that and we got the two points."
The Hurricanes' four-game road trip concludes in Dallas on Saturday, a chance for the Canes to collect six of a possible eight points in this stretch.