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Recap and Rank ‘em: Hurricanes Beat Panthers in Dramatic and Emotional Must-Win Game

This one pretty much had it all.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a hugely disappointing loss in New York on Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes needed to beat the Florida Panthers, and they did.

It was a big hockey game, one that ended up being low-scoring, but for what it lacked in goals, it made up for with physicality and emotion.

It was all Hurricanes for the first 20 minutes on Saturday night.

The Canes kept their foot down offensively, getting chance after chance against Panthers netminder James Reimer.

The home team wasn’t able to convert on either of their first two powerplays, but the third time was the charm as Elias Lindholm carried the puck down the middle of the zone, dropped it off to Sebastian Aho, and deflected the return pass short-side on Reimer.

Carolina kept applying the pressure down the stretch of period one, but Reimer answered the call time after time, holding the game to a 1-0 score through 20 minutes.

Though, not before Brock McGinn and Jared McCann scrapped at the end of a long offensive-zone shift for Carolina.

The second period was... interesting.

The Panthers came out with much more energy, finding holes in the Hurricanes’ defense and getting chances on Cam Ward, who had a truly marvelous period.

Then, hell broke loose.

Jeff Skinner had a run-in with Mark Pysyk, but after a lot of pushing and shoving from not only those two but also from a group of other players, things eventually died down for the time being.

Just moments later, Joakim Nordstrom sent Vincent Trocheck into another dimension with this huge, helmet-removing hit near the half-way point of the hockey game.

@brettfinger - Gif captured from FS GO stream.

As expected, tempers continued to flare as the period went on, eventually bringing on another fight.

Noah Hanifin dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career, going up against Florida captain Derek MacKenzie.

From there, things started to even out a bit and hockey was played more consistently. Joakim Nordstrom followed up his big hit with a big blocked shot down the stretch of period two, and the Canes held onto their lead after a very emotional period.

Early on in period three, the Panthers responded and found a hole in Ward, tying the hockey game at one goal apiece.

The Cats wouldn’t keep it tied for long, though.

Jeff Skinner was all alone in-tight and netted an absolute beauty to give the Hurricanes their second lead of the night.

Why, yes, he was quite excited to score his first goal in nine games.

@brettfinger - Captured from FS GO stream.

As the third period wore down, chances were exchanged back and forth, but both goalies were strong, including Cam Ward who bounced back well after a weak goal against earlier in the period.

Then, with two minutes to go, the Panthers tied the hockey game.

A long shot from the point was stopped by Ward, but Alex Barkov was right there to hammer home the rebound in front, thus forcing overtime in Raleigh.

It was one of the most exciting overtimes of the season as both teams went back and forth, getting chance after chance.

Then, Noah Hanifin willed one home with two seconds left in overtime.

That capped off a huge 3-2 overtime win for the Hurricanes ahead of their Western Conference road trip, which starts on Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Rank the performances

Here’s your chance to weigh in on how you think the team performed tonight. Upvote the players you think played well and downvote the ones who didn’t.