Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters says he doesn’t pay attention to the NHL standings.
It’s all about winning the next game, he said. The rest will take care of itself.
The Canes ended their eight-game homestand Tuesday with a third straight win, using a caeer-first hat trick from defenseman Justin Faulk to beat the Los Angles Kings 7-3 at PNC Arena.
Peters might like taking a peek at the Eastern Conference standings. The Canes (27-21-9) maintained their hold on a wild-card playoff spot with 63 points, one point behind the New Jersey Devils and a point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Canes and Devils play twice in the next three games -- fhe first Thursday at New Jersey. Crunch time has arrived.
“We’ve done a good job getting ourselves in this position and now we have to keep our foot on the gas,” the Canes’ Jeff Skinner said.
Skinner has done this part. The winger had a pair of goals Tuesday, his second quashing a Kings comeback attempt in the third period, and has three goals in the past two games.
But the Canes, in scoring their season high, had three power-play goals — two by Faulk — for the first time since March 2015 and had 10 players finish with points.
Sebastian Aho had a goal and two assists, scoring on a late breakaway. Defenseman Jaccob Slavin had the game’s first goal, and Justin Williams and Victor Rask each had two assists for the Canes, who led 3-0 after the first period and 5-0 in the second.
Goalie Cam Ward made a nice save on a Tyler Toffoli shot on the Kings’ first shift of the game, the first of his 27. As Kings coach John Stevens said, “It was all downhill from there.”
Faulk had gone 14 games without a goal. But on a special night, he found the shooting lanes and became the 10th defenseman in NHL history to score a natural hat trick, scoring the Canes’ last two goals of the first period and their first goal in the second.
Faulk is the first NHL defenseman to have a natural “hatty” since Dustin Byfuglien --then with the Chicago Blackhawks -- in November 2007.
“That’s pretty cool,” Faulk said “To be honest I didn’t know that stat.”
Asked when he last had a hat trick, he guessed pee-wee hockey.
“So a long time,” Faulk said. “Obviously the puck was coming off the stick all right tonight.”
Carolina had a lot of shots coming off sticks in the first, outshooting the Kings 18-3. Faulk scored his second of the game on the power play for a 3-0 lead, then his third 1:17 into the second that ended the night for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Skinner’s power-play goal made it 5-0.as the Canes, 5-2-1 on the homestand, continued to outskate and outhustle the Kings (30-21-5).
Faulk entered the game with four goals for the season, a disappointing total for the former NHL All-Star. But his seven goals now are tied with Noah Hanifin for the team lead among the D-men.
The Kings, playing the third game in a seven-game road trip, used goals from Anze Kopitar and Toffoli in the second to make it a 5-2 game. Torrey Mitchell’s goal in the third made it 5-3 before Skinner scored with 5:45 left in regulation, flicking a backhander past Darcy Kuemper after Phil Di Giuseppe’s strong forecheck.
Kings forward Dustin Brown served a one-game suspension for kneeing Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in Saturday’s game.
“Penalty kill, checking, breaking the puck out, you’ve got to put work boots on and be ready to work,” the Kings’ Stevens said. “That team works hard. They forecheck really well. They worked and we didn’t.”