– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
DALLAS — The Carolina Hurricanes made life easy on their goalkeeper, Curtis McElhinney, early in the game on Saturday, so much so that he virtually was a spectator for the first 40 minutes of the game.
But when called upon to be at his best, McElhinney was on point as Carolina continues its playoff push in the Eastern Conference.
Lucas Wallmark and Justin Faulk scored goals early in the first and second period respectively, and McElhinney made those stand up as he made 14 of his 24 saves in the third period as the Hurricanes defeated the Dallas Stars 3-0 at American Airlines Center, Carolina’s eighth win in its past 10 contests.
“I was really proud of them today,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That was a great game, really, from start to finish. Guys dug in. Again, everybody’s contributing in some form or fashion right now.”
Today’s win was the second 3-0 victory against the Stars in a span of a week, as Carolina’s other goalkeeper, Petr Mrazek, blanked the Stars with 33 saves on Feb. 16. McElhinney was not as busy in today’s contest against Dallas, as Carolina held the Stars to just 10 shots combined in the first two periods, including just four in the first 20 minutes.
Carolina made their defensive superiority count early as Wallmark took a feed from Greg McKegg on a 2-on-1 opportunity before beating Stars goalkeeper Ben Bishop at 3:15 of the first to give Carolina the lead.
Though Carolina only had six shots on goal in the first period, it more than doubled that output in outshooting the Stars 14-6 in the second and, just 61 seconds into the period, Faulk converted on a two-man advantage for the Hurricanes, scoring on a wrist shot from the high slot to double Carolina’s lead.
“It was a great first two periods, really minimized their shots,” McElhinney said. “It was 10 [shots] after two. That’s huge against a highly skilled team.”
Dallas did have good scoring chances before the third period, including a Jamie Benn backhand on a breakaway hitting the foot of the post late in the first period. With under a minute left in the second period, Radek Faksa beat McElhinney with a shot down low, but the goal was waved off as Blake Comeau crashed into McElhinney before Faksa’s rebound, causing the official to nullify the goal.
Dallas was able to turn up the pressure in the third period, putting 14 shots on goal on McElhinney, who was up to the task with each Stars effort.
Jordan Martinook scored into an empty net from the red line with 2:31 remaining to complete the scoring and match the Hurricanes’ 3-0 victory against Dallas from last week.
Dallas, which has lost four of its last five games, was coming off a 5-2 victory over St. Louis on Thursday, snapping the Blues’ 11-game winning streak.
“The emotional win against St. Louis sometimes takes a taxing toll,” said Stars head coach Jim Montgomery. “It should galvanize you. It’s disappointing.”
“Carolina skates us right our of the rink,” Montgomery continued.
Bishop made 28 saves in the defeat for the Stars, who have been shutout in three of their last four losses.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 16 pictures in total.