Momentum swings can be strange in sports and that was certainly evident on Tuesday night as the Carolina Hurricanes looked inept for two periods but then exploded with four goals in the third as they overcame a 3-0 deficit and went on to defeat the Montreal Canadiens, 5-4 in overtime in front of 16,807 at the PNC Arena.
The Hurricanes had multiple chances on the powerplay, including 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 opportunities, but could not cash in during the first two periods and were 0-8 at one point. But Jeff Skinner scored two powerplay goals in the first 2:15 of the third period, (the two goals were scored 37 seconds apart), and the Canes looked like a team possessed at times the rest of the third.
Montreal jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:20 into the game after a turnover behind the Carolina net. Lars Eller was the beneficiary as he zipped the puck past Cam Ward on the first shot of the game from the crease area.
Max Pacioretty then scored a powerplay goal and the Habs led 2-0 in the first period.
Pacioretty would score again in the second period to make it 3-0 and it seemed that the rout was on. In the meantime, the Hurricanes were able to get plenty of shots on goal as they had powerplay after powerplay, but they were unable to generate much and did not look good doing it.
The Canes had some 4-on-3 time to start the third and Skinner beat Carey Price with a laser to break the ice. Skinner then scored another powerplay tally 37 seconds later to make the score 3-2, the crowd went nuts, and suddenly the Hurricanes had some life.
The team fed off the crowd and controlled play after that. Eric Staal scored an even strength goal to tie the game up just 1:52 after Skinner's second goal. Then Zach Boychuk made a nice play, took the puck behind the net and found Manny Malhotra darting in toward the net. Manny made no mistake and put the home team up, 4-3 as all four goals were scored within 6:48.
The Habs were not done yet though and were owed a powerplay or two, after the parade of penalties called against them earlier. Sure enough, Tuomo Ruutu was called for interference and P.K. Subban blasted one past Ward from the blueline to tie the game, 4-4.
At this point, the Canadiens had only taken 19 shots to Carolina's 40.
The teams battled back and forth until Eric Staal was called for boarding with just 3:29 left in the game. Staal went to the box screaming at the ref, who really had no choice but to call unsportsmanlike conduct against him, which meant the Canes had to kill four minutes of Montreal powerplay time.
The team responded to the challenge though and while the crowd cheered loudly, killed the remainder of time in regulation without allowing a shot on goal.
The Canes also killed the first 31 seconds of 4-on-3 in the extra period and battled Montreal evenly until Alexander Semin beat Price with a shot in tight with just 1:33 left.
The Hurricanes are hoping that this wild comeback can turn the season around and give them a much needed spark in their future games.
Kirk Muller said that the slow start might have been attributed to the trade earlier of Kevin Westgarth, who was very popular in the room. The coach said the team was tight, so he told them to just go and play hockey the third, and play they did.
Eric Staal gave credit to the fans and said that when the building gets going like it did in the third, it drives the team.
Next up for the Canes will be the Capitals in Washington on Thursday night.
- The Canes outshot the Habs, 42-25, but directed a total of 100 shots toward the net as they missed the goal 24 times and had 34 shots blocked. The Habs missed the net 11 times and had nine shots blocked.
- Semin led the team with nine shots on goal with Andrej Sekera right behind with seven.
- The team won 67% of the game's faceoffs, a total of 58 faceoff wins. (J Staal 74%, E Staal 73%, Malhotra 53%)
- Malhotra was also credited with five hits and had an excellent overall game this night.
- Cam Ward made 21 saves on 25 shots, but stopped a couple of shorthanded breakaways to keep the score as close as it was.