Analysis from Raleigh
→ In their final home game of the 2016-17 regular season, the Carolina Hurricanes earned a point but were unable to snap a four-game losing skid in a 5-4 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.
"I thought it was a good hockey game. I thought there was real good pace to the game both ways," head coach Bill Peters said. "I thought there was lots going on in the game. I thought it was a very competitive game and high-level. Real nice plays being made at both ends."
→ Vladimir Tarasenko scored the game-deciding goal in the shootout, handing the Hurricanes their sixth shootout loss of the season.
"The dangerous guys were dangerous, it felt like," Peters said.
→ Jeff Skinner? Yeah, he's good at hockey.
Coming into tonight's game, he had already set a career high for goals in a season with 35. He then added two to that count and has tallied 14 goals in his last 13 games.
His first marker came with just 29 seconds left on the clock in the first period, as he picked up the rebound off a Brett Pesce shot for his 36th of the season.
In the third period, a beautiful display of hands and smarts evened the score at four. Skinner juggled a rebound on his stick, settled it down behind the net, got Carter Hutton moving laterally and then stuffed the puck in near side.
→ The first period was bookended by goals in the first and final minutes. St. Louis got things started just 26 seconds in when Ivan Barbashev potted a rebound on Alex Pietrangelo's point shot.
The Hurricanes answered back at the 9:10 mark when Klas Dahlbeck's wrist shot off a Jordan Staal faceoff win beat Hutton.
Then, with 29 seconds left on the clock in the period, Skinner's first of the game gave the Hurricanes a lead heading into the intermission.
"It was good to return to our identity. I thought it was hard-working, honest game," Peters said.
→ The second period? Just as back-and-forth as the first. Alexander Steen's heavy shot from the point on a power play tied the game at two. The Canes regained the lead on a bang-bang-bang play, as Victor Rask fed Sergey Tolchinsky who fed Joakim Nordstrom for his seventh of the season.
In another last-minute strike, Ryan Reaves tied the game once again on a squib kick of a shot that beat a screened Cam Ward.
"Those are momentum builders for them, and it hurts you a little bit," Peters said.
Video: Hear from Skinner, Bickell, and Peters Postgame
→ What a day - and what a career - it has been for Bryan Bickell. The veteran forward's day began outside the building at Walk MS: Triangle, where he and his family were joined by his teammates. He then was named the Steve Chiasson Award winner by his teammates, an award "given annually to the Hurricanes player that best exemplifies determination and dedication while proving to be an inspiration to his teammates through his performance and approach to the game." During tonight's game, his last home game of his career, he was honored for the Chiasson Award and also for a championship career. As both teams, officials and fans paid their respects with stick taps and a standing ovation, Bickell took an encore twirl on the ice in appreciation.
"Everybody enjoyed it. It was great, outstanding," Peters said. "He's done a fantastic job, and there's a lot of respect from his teammates toward Bicks."
"Heck of a career for that guy. I remember watching him [win the Stanley Cup]. He's had a great career. He's a great player and a great teammate," Skinner said. "You go through a career, meet a lot of guys and teammates and everyone's got a lot of different stories. What he's gone through this year … the emotion, the toughness, a lot of adjectives I can't really come up with. He's a great guy."
"When me and my family talked, the biggest thing is my health. I don't want to take risks. Obviously I've played hockey for my life, and it's tough to leave," Bickell said. "There's a life after hockey, and to be healthy and watch my kids grow will be important."
Bickell Brave, indeed.
→ The Hurricanes close out the 2016-17 regular season in Philadelphia on Sunday.
"I'd love to go out and play the right way. Play hard, play honest," head coach Bill Peters said. "Why wouldn't you just go out in game 82 and do it right? … Let's plan on doing that."
"We've been through a lot this year. Guys are playing for each other. It's a good feeling," Skinner said. "Obviously we're disappointed with the way this season has gone and the result, but I think guys have shown good character. We want to keep that intact and finish it off strong."