RALEIGH, N.C. -- With the Carolina Hurricanes out of contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, game No. 78 was not of particular importance.
But the Hurricanes' 3-2 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers generated optimistic responses from the players about building for next season, and Carolina coach Bill Peters offered some insightful remarks.
In his first season as an NHL coach, Peters has maintained a genial outlook when discussing the Hurricanes (29-38-11), win or lose. That continued Saturday, but with the friendly reminder he has a very clear vision about a building a better future.
"We're paying attention for sure. We have to," Peters said. "We have to make changes going into next year. We have to get better, we have to get deeper. We have to score more. We will explore all those options in the summer."
To drive home his point, Peters emphasized he's not on the fence with many evaluations.
"I have my own opinion, for sure," he said. "I have a very strong opinion on all 23 guys."
Carolina forward Jordan Staal set up Elias Lindholm for a goal in the first period before scoring in the second to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead.
Philadelphia forward Michael Raffl scored in the second period and Sean Couturier tied the game with 1:50 remaining in the third.
From there, Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry scored in the shootout to end Carolina's three-game losing streak.
Cam Ward made 21 saves for his 21st win of the season. Ray Emery lost for the first time against Carolina; he came into the game 5-0-0 with an 0.74 goals-against average against the Hurricanes.
Lindholm's 17th goal gave Carolina a 1-0 lead at 11:00 of the first period. Emery kicked out Staal's shot, but Lindholm was waiting at the right faceoff dot to finish with a one-timer.
Carolina had two power plays in the latter half of the period, but Philadelphia (31-29-18) killed each penalty without allowing a shot on goal.
Staal scored an unassisted goal early in the second period to give the Hurricanes a two-goal lead. After poking the puck away from Nicklas Grossmann in the neutral zone, Staal held the puck on a 2-on-1 with Eric Staal before beating Emery to the glove side at 3:27 for his fifth goal of the season.
"I figured Eric had enough [goals] and I wanted to get one obviously," said Jordan Staal, who had gone 18 games without scoring. "It was slow in the goal column for a while. To be honest, I didn't look at the net much. I just closed my eyes and fired it."
After a sluggish first period, the Flyers came alive on their first power play. With Alexander Semin off for hooking, Philadelphia worked the puck around to Couturier, whose shot through traffic was tipped by Raffl for his 21st goal at 9:46 of the second.
"I thought we were in total control up to [that point] and could have got it to 3-0," Peters said. "Then late in the power play they scored, which is obviously a frustrating situation."
Couturier tied the game when he gathered Michael Del Zotto's pass in front of Ward and scored on a backhand.
"It's never easy when you get scored on late," Ward said. "But I didn't sense any panic. I thought in the overtime period we had some looks and I don't think we gave up a shot. Good mental test for the guys."
Gerbe and Terry scored on Carolina's first two shootout attempts, giving Ward a bit of breathing room after stopping Jakub Voracek on Philadelphia's first attempt. After Nick Cousins scored for the Flyers, Ward stopped Claude Giroux for the victory.
"You don't see those very often," said Ward, smiling and poking fun at his NHL shootout record of 13-30. "It definitely helps relax you when you score early. To be 2-for-2, I was really determined to make sure that stood and we got the win."
Terry is one of the players who has impressed Peters in recent weeks. In addition to the shootout goal, Terry has two goals and two assists in his past five games. A healthy scratch for stretches this season, the rookie has 10 goals in 53 games and five shootout goals in nine attempts.
"Chris Terry looks like he can play in the NHL right now," Peters said. "He's been real good and he's playing at the hardest time of the year. There are some guys that are trending up and some guys that are falling off a bit."
Philadelphia completed the road portion of its season 10-20-11, losing its League-high 11th shootout of the season.
"Down to a shootout again where we didn't get the win," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Guys battled hard in the third to get a point, but in the end, we have to find a way to win those overtimes and shootouts."
The Flyers end the season with a four-game homestand beginning Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina begins a three-game road trip Monday at the Buffalo Sabres.