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Skinner's hat trick powers Hurricanes past Ducks

by Abbey Mastracco

ANAHEIM -- Jeff Skinner had a hat trick, and Eddie Lack made 31 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes end a five-game road losing streak with a 5-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday.

Skinner scored the first two goals for Carolina (11-14-4) and completed the third hat trick of his NHL career with an empty-net goal with 2:24 remaining.

"Jeff Skinner was very good here tonight and has been good for quite a while," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "That's a good sign for us. He needs to continue to play the way he is. He's playing very hard right now."

The win was Carolina's first on the road since Oct. 29, when they defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime.

Skinner opened the scoring following a strong shift by Anaheim's top line. He took a clearing pass from defenseman Ron Hainsey in the neutral zone, carried the puck into the Ducks end on a 2-on-1 break and snapped it past goalie John Gibson from the right faceoff circle at 16:50.

"It was the end of a long shift and their D-men are great at moving around and causing confusion in their end," Skinner said. "You see an opportunity to sort of jump on them and we got a little bit of a break -- I think it went off of someone's hand when it was cleared -- and I put it on net, and fortunately it went in."

Skinner scored again at 11:35 of the second to put the Hurricanes up 2-0. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau challenged the goal, claiming a Carolina player interfered with Gibson, but it was upheld after video review.

Skinner's 11 goals are tied for the Hurricanes lead (Justin Faulk). He has scored six times in the past four games, leaving his confidence higher than it's been all season.

"Sometimes it's just seeing the puck go in the net," Skinner said. "When you're playing and getting a lot of chances and one doesn't go in for you, it's a little bit frustrating and you've got to stick with it. Maybe you get a lucky bounce and you try and build off that. Sticking with it and seeing one go in."

After Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano was sent to the penalty box for high sticking, Elias Lindholm scored on a slap shot at 16:53 of the second period to put the Hurricanes ahead 3-0.

Gibson was pulled in favor of Frederik Andersen at the start of the third period. It was Andersen's first action since Nov. 21, when he gave up five goals in a loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Jakob Silfverberg scored Anaheim's goal at 14:09 of the third period when he tipped in a pass from Sami Vatanen to cut the Carolina lead to 3-1.

It was a goal that Boudreau said should have reinvigorated the Ducks (11-13-5), but a little more than two minutes later, Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal put the game away with his sixth goal.

"You can say it was a strong effort, but when they've got a 3-0 lead, they're just playing safe," Boudreau said. "We needed that effort in the first two periods, and not just the third."

The Ducks were down a man most of the game after center Nate Thompson received an elbowing major and a game misconduct for a hit on Faulk at 6:25 of the first period.

Thompson said he didn't intend to hit Faulk, his teammate with the United States in the 2012 and 2013 IIHF World Championships, as high as he did.

"I thought for the first 10 minutes we had a pretty good start, but then the wheels just fell off," Thompson said. "I feel like I'm a pretty honest player; I'm not a dirty player. It happened pretty fast, and I wasn't trying to hit his head."

It was Anaheim's first game since Sunday, and captain Ryan Getzlaf said he expected more from the Ducks after the long layoff.

"I call it not being a pro," Getzlaf said. "We had four days off. We should have expected to come out playing one of our best games of the year. We didn't. You have to be able to use those breaks and use them the right way and show up to play come game time. I didn't think we did a very good job of that tonight."

The loss will linger for the Ducks, who have five more days off before beginning a four-game Eastern Conference road trip Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres.

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