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Hurricanes keep pace in Eastern wild-card race

Extend point streak to 13 games with OT win against Blue Jackets

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes kept pace in the Eastern Conference wild-card race with a 2-1 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Arena on Thursday. 

Noah Hanifin scored with 2:44 remaining in overtime, after the Hurricanes tied the game 1-1 on a goal by Jeff Skinner with 4:20 left in the third period.

Cam Ward made 23 saves for Carolina (35-27-14), which remained four points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the East. The Bruins defeated the Dallas Stars 2-0.

 

WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Hurricanes highlights

 

The Hurricanes have a 13-game point streak (9-0-4), longest in their history.

"I just like seeing the growth among our team moving forward," said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, who won his 100th NHL game. "We're getting a lot of questions answered. I like the growth individually in players and the maturity of our group and the willingness to do it right. You learn how to win, and that's what it's all about this time of year."

The game-winner was Hanifin's first in 154 NHL games. His fourth goal of the season gave him eight in the NHL.

"It was in a good spot, right in the middle of the slot," the 20-year-old defenseman said. "It was a rebound, so the goalie was coming out. I was shooting as hard as I could, hoping he wouldn't see it."

Columbus (49-20-7) moved four points behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Conference and NHL. The Blue Jackets have scored one goal in three of the past four games.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Skinner banks home a wrister to tie it

"We're doing some good things, but we need to find our offense, myself included," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "We need to find a way to get goals and produce and gain momentum from that. It's contagious, [but] right now we're just not doing it enough."

Columbus took a 1-0 lead at 16:25 of the second period. Scott Hartnell waited for Jack Johnson to join the rush before making a cross-ice pass for a wrist shot over Ward's glove. It was Johnson's first goal in 18 NHL games against the Hurricanes, who selected him No. 3 in the 2005 NHL Draft. 

 

Goal of the game

Skinner made a nice spin move around Johnson on his net drive after starting the play by gathering a rebound behind the Hurricanes net.

"To be honest, I don't know if it got on net or it slipped off my stick," Skinner said. "[Johnson] got a pretty good body on me and I kind of lost sight of it. When I picked it back up, it just squirted out front."

Video: CBJ@CAR: Hanifin cranks home one-timer for the OT win

 

Save of the game 

Ward stopped Alexander Wennberg's shot from the slot with his left pad with 1:03 remaining in the second period.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Ward shuts the door on Wennberg's backhand

 

Highlight of the game

Hartnell did a nice job protecting the puck before passing to Johnson for the first goal of the game.

Video: CBJ@CAR: Johnson picks the top corner with wrist shot 

 

Unsung performance of the game 

Hurricanes forward Victor Rask created traffic in the slot to help Skinner score the tying goal.

 

They said it

"They put on a good push in the whole third period. We needed to spend a little bit more time in the offensive zone. When they have a push, we have to start controlling the puck and stop giving it back to them." -- Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson

 

"It stung a little bit. I'm kind of happy it wasn't [Justin] Faulk's slap shot, or I wouldn't be sitting here anymore. It stings for a little bit, but then you get back out there. I got pads there. They did their job." -- Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner on taking a shot in the foot from teammate Derek Ryan

 

Need to know

The Hurricanes have outscored their opponents 16-4 in the third period over the past 11 games. ... Skinner has 17 points (12 goals, five assists) in 16 games this month. ... Johnson never played a game for Carolina. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings with Oleg Tverdovsky for Eric Belanger and Tim Gleason prior to the 2006-07 season. ... Peters is 100-99-41 in three seasons coaching the Hurricanes.

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: At the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-O, CSN-CH, NHL.TV)

Hurricanes: Host the Dallas Stars on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-SW, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Hanifin's overtime winner lifts Canes to 2-1 victory

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