PHILADELPHIA – Nathan Gerbe enjoys working on trick shots in practice, so he figured why not try it in a game.
Gerbe’s remarkable highlight-reel tally — one that likely will be a candidate for top NHL goal of the season — helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Jiri Tlusty scored the tiebreaking goal and Alexander Semin also tallied for Carolina, which improved to 3-0 against Philadelphia this season.
But it was Gerbe’s second-period breakaway move that had his teammates and coach smiling afterward.
“I think we were all caught off guard,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “It’s one thing to goof around in practice but to do it not only in a shootout but on a turnover and a quick breakaway, his mind-set to do it had to be quick. It was a gutsy thing and fun for the fans to watch, I’m sure.”
Gerbe benefited from a mistake by Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn, who misplayed a pass back to the point and couldn’t recover when the speedy Gerbe got behind him.
Gerbe then faked a shot by backhanding the puck through his own legs and then amazingly scored with a forehand shot while the puck was still between his legs with a wrister that deflected off Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
It’s a goal that surely will be played countless times on the nightly highlight shows.
“It’s something I always try in practice,” Gerbe said. “Just right when I picked the puck up I felt like I had the gap and the speed to do it, and fortunately it went in. I wanted to show I was going to my back hand and tried to pull it through my legs as quick as I can and go far side.”
Gerbe said it’s a shot he’s used in junior hockey and the minor leagues but never in an NHL game.
“I like to work on skills and that was the instance tonight,” he said, adding that his teammates enjoyed the goal. “They were funny. They were telling me I must feel confident and they were pretty excited for me.”
Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell scored for the Flyers, who lost for just the second time at home in their last 14 games.
“I thought the whole game wasn’t very good,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “You have to do things quick, have support and make plays. The way we were moving the puck, that wasn’t going to happen.”
The Flyers battled back from a 2-0 deficit before Tlusty beat Mason from close range high to the glove side with 6:10 remaining for the game-winner.
“The defense made a good shot through traffic and it kind of bounced right in front of me,” Tlusty said. “I was there by myself so I tried to put it up high and it went in.”
The game originally was scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed due to the snowstorm that hit Philadelphia and much of the Northeast. As a result, Carolina also moved its home game against Ottawa from Friday to Saturday in order to avoid playing on three straight nights. The Hurricanes play at Buffalo on Thursday.
Semin opened the scoring for Carolina with just over 8 minutes left in the first period when he fired a wrist shot over Mason’s glove hand into the top shelf.
Neither team generated much offense in the opening period, as the Hurricanes outshot Philadelphia 8-3.
Each team scored once in the second period, with Gerbe putting the Hurricanes up 2-0 with a breakaway goal with 6:22 left in the period.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot like this; we need to have better starts,” Giroux said. “We can’t do comebacks every game. I think there was no energy all game. We need to play with confidence, believe in ourselves and make plays that are there.”
The Flyers started making those plays after falling behind by two goals.
Philadelphia got on the board with 35 seconds left in the second when Giroux scored from a tough angle when his backhander ricocheted off the chest of Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin and into the goal.
And the Flyers tied it just 3 minutes into the third period on Hartnell’s power-play goal. Giroux took the initial shot from the top of the left circle and Wayne Simmonds failed on the rebound attempt. But the puck caromed off Khudobin and to Hartnell, who scored from point-blank range.
But Carolina staved off the rally.
“We weathered the storm and then started playing again and relaxed,” Muller said. “I’m really pleased with the way we bounced back in the third. We came in and had a good road game. The guys came up and played strong.”
Red Wings 5, Blackhawks 4 (SO)
In Detroit, Darren Helm scored on the Red Wings’ sixth attempt in the shootout and Jonas Gustavsson stopped Andrew Shaw’s shot, lifting the Red Wings past Chicago.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks faced the Red Wings for the first time since beating them in overtime in Game 7 of their second-round series last year to complete a comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored on his team’s first attempt in the shootout and Patrick Sharp scored on the second before Patrick Kane was stopped with a chance to win the game.
Gustavsson, playing for the injured Jimmy Howard, made 31 saves in his first game in nearly a month.
Corey Crawford gave up four goals on the first 17 shots he faced and finished with 27 saves for the Blackhawks.
Flames 3, Coyotes 2
In Calgary, Sean Monahan scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season and Matt Stajan got the game-winner as the Flames snapped their team-record seven-game home losing streak.
Lance Bouma also scored for Calgary, which scored more than two goals for the second time in 14 games since Christmas and had been outscored 22-4 during its home skid.
Karri Ramo finished with 30 saves for the Flames.
Antoine Vermette and Shane Doan scored for Phoenix, which has lost eight of its last 11.
Penguins 5, Canadiens 1
In Pittsburgh, Jussi Jokinen scored twice and the Penguins cruised past Montreal.
Evgeni Malkin added a goal and an assist, Sidney Crosby picked up his 26th of the season and Taylor Pyatt added a rare score for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves as Pittsburgh bounced back from a dismal loss to Florida on Monday by trouncing hapless Montreal.
Jokinen picked up his third multi-goal game of the season
Rene Bourque had his seventh goal for the Canadiens but Montreal spent most of the night chasing the Penguins. Carey Price stopped just 16 of 21 shots before being pulled late in the second period. Montreal has lost four of six.