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About Last Night: That’s Overtime Hockey, Baby

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Jake Gardiner’s classy overtime winner moves the Canes to 2-0.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes apparently missed playing hockey so much that they decided 60 minutes a night wasn’t good enough. For the second time in as many outings this season, the Canes headed to overtime after making a third-period comeback Saturday night in Washington.

Thursday night against Montreal it took a shootout to decide things, but Saturday it was Hurricanes’ newcomer Jake Gardiner who ended things with just under a minute to spare in the extra period.

It was the Canes first meaningful trip to Washington since another memorable overtime triumph, one that came from the stick of Brock McGinn in game seven of last year’s first-round playoff series between the Hurricanes and the Caps. While the stakes were much lesser and the lights perhaps a little dimmer, the result was the same, as the Canes left Capital One Arena with a win under their belt as they headed back to Raleigh.

New Kids on the Block

The absolute superstar for the Hurricanes Saturday night was goaltender James Reimer, who was making his first appearance in a Carolina jersey after being traded from Florida this offseason.

Reimer stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced and was solid all night, but he really shined down the stretch. Reimer made save after save in a third period that saw the Canes dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole, and he was even better in the overtime period.

Carolina played two minutes in overtime down a man after giving Washington its sixth power play of the night, and it was Reimer who came up big to make it a sixth successful penalty kill. The Hurricanes’ netminder turned away a couple dangerous shots, and came up huge to clear the puck on a scramble in front of the net as the Caps’ power play expired.

The Hurricanes really just need Reimer to be solid this season, with Petr Mrazek comfortably in the starting role, but the newcomer was more than solid in his first outing with the Canes. If Reimer can consistently play like he did Saturday night, Carolina will be in a good spot moving forward.

While Reimer stole the show, he wasn’t the only fresh face in the Canes’ locker room to make an impact on the ice Saturday night. Carolina’s scoring started early in the third period thanks to Erik Haula, who’s on pace for an 82-goal season through two games.

Haula seems to be fitting right in with the Canes early on, as his tally Saturday was the result of a beautiful power-play sequence for Carolina. The Hurricanes’ power play was 1 for 4 against the Caps, but it seemed to be clicking well with some of the new guys plugged in.

A dangerous power-play unit would be a welcome sight for Carolina fans, and Haula’s third-period goal was a great example of what exactly you should do with a man advantage.

Gardiner ended the game with his first goal as a Hurricane, as the free-agent signing who has spent the early years of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs slotted one past Braden Holtby on a quick breakout with just under a minute left in the overtime period.

The Hurricanes stayed fairly active throughout the offseason, and just two games into the season it’s already paying off. While the stars of the Canes will still be returners like Sebastian Aho, Jaccob Slavin and Teuvo Teravainen, the new guys are coming in and getting to work early.

Save Some Good PKs for Another Game

The Washington Capitals were 0 for 6 on the power play Saturday night. The great part of that for Carolina is that the penalty kill was outstanding, limiting Washington to just seven shots on goal over the six power plays combined. The bad part of that for Carolina though, is that the penalty kill was out on the ice six different times.

The Canes deserve all the credit in the world for how well they played down a man, as Washington never seemed to find any rhythm on the power play as Carolina did a great job putting on pressure and clearing the puck out of danger. The Hurricanes were eighth in the NHL in penalty kill percentage last season, and they looked to be in even better form Saturday night.

However, simple math will tell you that you aren’t going to win many games in which you rack up 14 minutes of penalty time. Carolina is going to have to do a better job than it did Saturday of limiting those mistakes and staying out of the box.

A Good Old Fashioned Twitter Rivalry

What good is a rivalry if you can’t have a little fun with it? The Canes and Caps ongoing Twitter saga continued Saturday, as Carolina had some fun with Washington following the game.

Let’s have a little refresher on where we started though. Back in April following the Canes’ series win over the Capitals, Carolina went to Twitter for some Game of Thrones-themed banter. The Caps didn’t take too kindly to it, responding with a simple message to the Hurricanes.

I guess the Canes took that to heart Saturday night.

And how about a little more fuel to the fire?

Wrapping Up

It took overtime again, but the Hurricanes are 2-0-0 as they head back home for a tough Sunday evening matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The new guys are contributed, the special teams are humming and hockey is back in full swing.