RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Jeff Skinner has picked up right where he left off last season when he became NHL's youngest rookie of the year winner.
Skinner and Chad LaRose had two goals apiece Tuesday night, lifting the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
``He's still trying to improve his game away from the puck, and his first goal was a perfect example of him getting to the right defensive position and using his skill level,' Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said of Skinner, who has six goals and 12 points in 12 games this season.
Carolina improved to 1-2-1 against Southeast Division rivals and broke a three-game home losing streak to Tampa Bay.
Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen sustained an undisclosed lower body injury in the third period and didn't return.
Carolina's Cam Ward (5-2-2) made 27 saves. Tampa Bay counterpart Dwayne Roloson (2-3-1) stopped 26 shots.
``We have done more than talked about this,' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. ``Except for the third period, we didn't earn anything. (Carolina) earned it, we did not, plain and simple. We should have come out just for the third period.'
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead with 4:46 left in the first when Teddy Purcell picked up the puck after Bryan Allen blocked Marc-Andre Bergeron's shot from the high slot.
LaRose tied it with a power-play goal at 18:21. He gathered a loose puck behind Roloson off a rebound of Jay Harrison's shot and tipped it in.
Skinner put Carolina ahead 22 seconds into the middle period, using fancy stick work in traffic to beat Roloson stick side from the low slot.
``The offensive part of the game, (Skinner) is ahead of where he was last year with his confidence and what he's trying to do with the puck,' Maurice said. ``The book on him when he came in is he scores goals in heavy traffic.'
The 19-year-old Skinner has nine goals in eight career games against the Lightning.
``You want to focus every game on coming out and being consistent and not letting off the gas,' Skinner said. ``We've been focusing on that the last couple of games to keep the forecheck going and keep working.'
Carolina killed off a 5-on-3 power play later in the period after Eric Staal and LaRose were whistled for simultaneous penalties.
``All those guys did a great job,' LaRose said. ``Me and Staaler were cheering them on from the box.'
Skinner pushed the Hurricanes' lead to 3-1 on a rush at 10:38. He took Jokinen's pass from the left circle at the right doorstep and easily beat Roloson.
``That was an unbelievable pass,' Skinner said. ``He did a great job finding me in the first place coming across the neutral zone, and then I got it over to him. I got it over to him and I don't know how he got that pass back.'
Tampa Bay made it 3-2 at 14:16 of the third when Brett Connolly picked up a loose puck and poked it past Ward for his first NHL goal.
LaRose then netted an insurance goal at 15:10 on a rush, taking Jiri Tlusty's centering pass and beating Roloson between the pads.
NOTES: Carolina, which opened a three-game homestand, will have 10 of its 15 games in November at home. ... The last shutout in this series was a 4-0 Lightning road win on Feb. 1, 2007. Bergeron's first-period assist was his 13th point of the season, tying him with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the most among NHL defensemen.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved