RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Even as an offensive-minded defenseman, earning a hat trick never really entered Justin Faulk’s mind.
That changed Tuesday night.
Faulk had his first career hat trick, Jeff Skinner scored twice, and the Carolina Hurricanes routed the short-handed Los Angeles Kings 7-3.
Faulk’s three goals came in a span of 12:21 as Carolina raced out to a 5-0 lead. He became the 10th defenseman in NHL history to score a natural hat trick.
“It’s not something I ever really thought about, getting a hat trick,” Faulk said. “I know I’ve had plenty of two-goal games. It’s pretty cool. I like that (defenseman) scoring, so hopefully it happens more.”
Jacob Slavin and Sebastian Aho also scored for the Hurricanes, who won their third straight and finished their eight-game homestand 5-2-1. Cam Ward made 27 saves.
Slavin opened the scoring 6:40 into the game and Faulk scored just over two minutes later. He scored again on a slap shot in the waning minutes of the first period, and completed his hat trick with another slap shot 1:17 into the second period.
“Obviously the puck was coming off the stick tonight all right tonight,” Faulk said. “I’m not going to turn down opportunities to shoot. Sometimes that’s probably (been) a bad thing in my career, I shoot a little too much once in a while. But I treated it the same, whether I had one goal or three goals.”
Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, and Torrey Mitchell scored the Kings, who were without key forwards Dustin Brown (suspension) and Trevor Lewis (injury). Jonathan Quick saved 16 of 20 shots before being pulled following Faulk’s third goal.
Carolina outshot Los Angeles 41-30 and was in control from the outset.
The Hurricanes outshot the Kings 18-3 in the first period. The result was a 3-0 edge at the first intermission.
“They showed up to work and we didn’t,” Los Angeles coach John Stevens said. “Pretty simple…Penalty kill, checking, breaking the puck out, you’ve got to put your work boots on and you’ve got be ready to work. We didn’t, and we got the result we deserve.”
Carolina piled on in the second. Faulk reached his hat trick with a slapper on the power play from the left point that beat Quick – his second straight power play goal – to make it 4-0, and the Kings netminder skated to the bench as hats rained onto the ice at PNC Arena.
Darcy Kuemper replaced Quick and was given the same rough treatment. Carolina peppered him with five quick shots, including one that hit the crossbar and another that hit the post, and Skinner finally found twine on the power play with a wrist shot over Kuemper’s glove into the top corner of the net.
The Kings kicked into gear down five goals. Kopitar’s power-play goal got them going and Toffoli banged home a loose puck in front of the net in the final minutes of the second. Mitchell’s pristine redirection of a Kyle Clifford pass 6:43 into the third period made it interesting, but Skinner squashed any comeback hopes with a backhander with 5:45 left.
“They were coming,” Skinner said. “They’re a good team, they’ve got some skilled guys. I think once we scored that goal there, it turned it around for us”.
Aho followed with a breakaway goal for the finishing touch.
Kuemper made 18 saves on 21 shots in relief of Quick.
NOTES: Carolina scored three power plays goals in a game for the first time this season. … Teuvo Teravainen had three assists and Aho, Justin Williams and Victor Rask had two for the Hurricanes. … Skinner passed Geoff Sanderson (196) for seventh place on Carolina’s all-time goals list and Erik Cole (363) for third on the team’s all-time points list. … The Kings placed Lewis (upper body injury) on injured reserve before the game, retroactive to Feb. 9. … Brown served a one-game suspension for kneeing Tampa Bay D Mikhail Sergachev on Feb. 10.
Kings: Continue their seven-game road trip at Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Hurricanes: Travel to face New Jersey on Thursday.