Since the Canes last took the ice on Tuesday, they’ve made a couple roster moves that perhaps you’ve heard about. With half of the top defensive pairing gone, how would Faulk and his new partner play? Now that Tlusty is in Winnipeg, who would fill his constantly changing role? Would Cam Ward turn heel and smash the silver stick over Francis’ back and reveal a San Jose jersey? All these questions and more would be answered slightly after 7pm Friday night in the PNC Arena!

Cam did not turn heel.

Though I’m not exactly sure why fans were told to be in their seats by 6:45 (maybe the team knows that there are stragglers among us), the ceremony honoring Cam Ward’s 500th game was very nice, and thankfully lacked both thunder sound effects and any playing of “Simply the Best

The early portion of the game was dominated not by either team, but by general malaise and a lack of scoring chances. Perhaps the pre-game ceremony threw everyone’s timing off? However, with just a few minutes left in the 1st period, Brett Bellemore (of all people) opened the scoring with a shot from the point. While initially the goal looked like it may have been deflected, it remained credited to the large defenseman. No doubt the goal was scored thanks to Canes players GOING TO THE FRONT OF THE NET.

Much like in the first period, apparently the professional athletes all hit the snooze button until damn near the midway point of the second period. In this instance, the alarm that finally woke everyone up was a wrist shot from Skinner that beat Braden Holtby for a 2-0 Canes lead. This was Skinner’s 3rd straight game with a goal, and 6th in his last 8 games. Perhaps the talking to/almost healthy scratch he got from coach Peters got something through to him.

Beyond Skinner’s goal, the Canes were playing like they’d been lifting weights and doing cocaine all day for the latter half of the second period. I don’t know exactly what led to them winning battles, hitting everything in sight, and controlling possession, but it was a lot of fun to watch.

Down 2-0 in the third, Washington mounted a pretty good charge, but Khudobin (and the posts) wouldn’t let them get one on the scoreboard. On what felt like the 4th chance at an empty net goal, Gerbe finally fought off Ovechkin and dribbled one home for the final goal and a 3-0 Hurricanes win. Again, who the hell is this team and where were they in October? Oh… right.. they were all hurt.

The Good

Anton Khudobin: There are so many places that I could start for good performances last night, but on the back of a 28 save shutout, I’m gonna go with the netminder. It was great to hear him answer 3 questions about Ward, trades, and his team in the postgame interview as well.

Nathan Gerbe: Though he was credited with 8 shots on goal, it felt like he had 15. Dude was everywhere, worked hard, and was rewarded with the empty net tally.

Justin Faulk: In his first game without Sekera in a long time, Faulk played over 28 minutes (!), earned an assist, had 3 shots, and 5 hits. Oh, and he kept Ovechkin and company off the board too. Spoiler alert: he’s good.

Andrej Nestrasil: This young fella wasn’t afraid to go to the front of the net, and it paid off for everyone involved. He earned 2 assists on the evening, and his ability to park his ass in front of Holtby certainly led to the opening marker of the night.

Brett Bellemore: Scored his first goal of the season, and fought Tom Wilson in a good scrap. Not a GREAT game, but still worth noting.

Seriously, there was so much good in this game, I’m not even compelled to write a “bad” section for individual or team performances. Let’s just enjoy this one for what it was and pray that The John Tavares Experience takes it easy on us at 5pm today.