The Carolina Hurricanes had four players come off of injury, which may have been a sign of things to come as they welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. Tim Brent, Tim Gleason, Jamie McBain and Jeff Skinner all came back into the lineup and that’s especially good news for Skinner since he was out with a concussion, his second and just one of many around the NHL.
Interestingly, all four of the returnees contributed in some way to the 4-1 win over the Pens. Brent played more than three and a half minutes as the power play quarterback, Gleason put up an assist, McBain logged more than 18 minutes of ice time and Skinner scored his eighth goal of the year.
Of course, most people focused on a different storyline: Jordan Staal‘s first time seeing his former team since he was traded off to Carolina on draft night, which was also his wedding night. This was the second “hello, my old friends” game involving a Hurricanes player this week, following Alexander Semin seeing the Washington Capitals again on Tuesday. Needless to say, this game ended up a lot better for Carolina than the Semin reunion, which was a 3-0 loss.
That being said, Staal didn’t manage to score on his old team, but consider the way Marc-Andre Fleury has denied Staal in the past–just look up “Fleury Shootout Before Winter Classic” on YouTube–and hey, they were on the same team when that happened!
However, Eric Staal did put up Carolina’s first goal of the evening about six minutes after the Penguins got on the board, so at least one of the Staals managed to score.
Actually, there was another storyline too: Cam Ward was celebrating his birthday. Well, kind of. He’s a leap day baby, so technically his birthday won’t exist again until the next Summer Olympiad in 2016. But legally, he’s 29 years old and stopped all but one of the 27 shots he faced.
Jiri Tlusty scored the other two goals for the Hurricanes and quite nearly had a hat trick, settling what would be the final score with a goal at 19:49 of the second period.
In the five games the Hurricanes played without Skinner, they were 1-4, so his return is definitely a good thing, though it was just one of many storylines from this showdown. The team is now preparing for a home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers that is also a back-to-back and starts March 2.