RALEIGH – The Carolina Hurricanes have little choice at this point in the season. It’s win, a lot, or else.
Against the San Jose Sharks on Friday, the Canes won 3-2. They won on Jussi Jokinen’s goal with 8:05 left in regulation. They won with Justin Peters in net. They won with defenseman Derek Joslin as a fourth-line winger.
The final seconds were frantic. The Sharks pulled goalie Thomas Greiss for an extra attacker, forcing Peters to make some big saves.
"They were obviously try to come back there and I can't say enough for the job the (defense) did, not only at the end of the game but the whole game," Peters said. "They made a late push but we were able to hang on."
"Obviously there were some nerves. It's been a while since I've been in there."
Peters, who was making his first start since Jan. 7 and only his third of the season, had 35 saves. It was his first NHL win since beating the Atlanta Thrashers 4-3 in overtime Jan. 9, 2011, at the RBC Center and was the first by any Canes backup goalie since that game.
"When you haven't played in a while it's tough but he was ready," Canes coach Kirk Muller said.
The Sharks game was the start of a stretch of eight games that will have the Canes (22-25-11) at home seven times. If they’re to make a move in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and claw into the playoff mix, they realize they must make the most of it and pile up some points.
Jeff Skinner gave the Canes a 1-0 lead with an even-strength score, and defenseman Justin Faulk then added a power-play goal in the first period. Carolina kept the 2-0 through two periods and was the sharper, quicker team.
"I thought we lacked a lot of energy and jump and determination," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "In the first two periods we didn't win a lot of races to the pucks. They were better and stronger than we were."
But the Sharks, after slumbering through much of the first two periods, were fully awake in the third. Goals by Dan Boyle and Brent Burns in the first four minutes of the period quickly tied the score 2-2.
The Sharks continued to make a push, only to have the Canes strike. Jamie McBain unloaded a shot from the right point and Jokinen got the tip on the slot.
Skinner was involved in a practice fight with Pat Dwyer on Wednesday at Raleigh Center Ice. It was brief but intense, and several players needed to pull the two scrappy forwards apart.
But Skinner, who had lost his composure at times in recent games, was all business Friday.
The Canes used an effective forecheck to grab the 1-0 lead. Drayson Bowman first battled for the puck along the boards. Skinner got it, then lost it, but Jokinen reeled it in and found Skinner along the goal line to the right of the net.
Skinner fired a shot through the crease, the puck nicking the skate of a Sharks player and going in the net for his 16th goal of the season at 7:31 of the first.
Skinner also drew the penalty that led to the Canes’ second goal -- from Greiss, who was called for hooking as Skinner carried the puck behind the net.
On the power play, Faulk went backdoor, pinching in from the point, and took a pass from Jiri Tlusty for an easy score at 10:34 -- Faulk's fifth goal of the season.
Tlusty extended his point streak to a season-best six games and Eric Staal also earned an assist on the goal to push his point streak to four games.
Derek Joslin played fourth-line winger for the Canes against the team that traded him to Carolina almost a year ago to the day. Joslin, a defenseman, had been a healthy scratch the past five games.