RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters wants his team to see the big picture and not just focus on the playoff standings.
Brock McGinn scored twice to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Jeff Skinner also scored, Elias Lindholm had two assists and Cam Ward stopped 29 shots to help Carolina remain one point ahead of Columbus for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“I’d rather be playing well and not care if I’m in by one or out by two,” Peters said. “I’d rather be playing well and building toward something. That’s what we’re doing.”
McGinn tied the score with just over three minutes left in the first period and gave the Hurricanes the lead 35 seconds into the third. Skinner capped the scoring with 6:43 left as Carolina, seeking its first playoff appearance since 2009, won its second straight after a three-game skid.
“It was definitely a big win for us, coming off of a couple of losses,” McGinn said. “We just want to build on it going forward.”
Ward said it’s difficult to not keep up with the other teams in the wild-card race and in the Metropolitan Division.
“Every day, everybody is looking at the standings,” Ward said. “You’ve got to take care of business right now. You can’t wait until you’ve got 10 games left.”
Tyson Barrie scored for Colorado and Semyon Varlamov finished with 32 saves.
The Avalanche, playing without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for a fifth straight game due to a shoulder injury, fell four points behind Minnesota for the second wild card in the West.
Ward made six saves on the penalty kill in the second period after right wing Teuvo Teravainen took two penalties, about 4 minutes apart. The second, for high-sticking, drew blood on Colorado center J.T. Compher and gave the Avalanche a 4-minute power play.
The Avs, who entered the game with the NHL’s worst power-play unit on the road, couldn’t convert with the extended opportunity.
McGinn’s second goal looked a lot like his first with Lindholm, who was behind the net, setting him up in the slot.
Colorado struck first with a goal by Barrie with 3:09 left in the first. Mikko Rantanen set it up with a takeway behind the Hurricanes’ net and then found Barrie in the slot, and the defenseman beat Ward high.
The Hurricanes evened it up 18 seconds later when McGinn beat Varlamov with a quick wrist shot.
There are 26 games left for Carolina. As Peters pointed out, that’s a lot of hockey, but if Carolina can play the way it has the past couple of games, it might have a chance to end its long playoff drought.
“We have to do it right each and every night,” Peters said. “We know how to play and when we’re committed to doing it the right way, we get positive results.”
Avalanche: At Buffalo on Sunday for their third game in four days.
Hurricanes: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday to close out an eight-game homestand.