RALEIGH — On night two of their first back-to-back of the 2019-20 season, the Carolina Hurricanes found themselves in a very familiar situation - down by two goals.
Yet, for the third consecutive game to kick off the campaign, Carolina battled back and managed to win in extra time. This time, by a final score of 4-3.
The opening 2:30 saw a quick burst of offense. At 1:14 of the first period, Brett Pesce’s point wrist shot was deflected in the slot (potentially by Andrei Svechnikov) and found its way by former Hurricane Curtis McElhinney to make it an early 1-0 game.
All of 1:08 later, the Bolts got the goal back in the form of a long-range shot from Tyler Johnson that ricocheted off of Petr Mrazek’s blocker-side post and into the net. It was placed perfectly through traffic in front, but it’s a goal Mrazek would want back.
From there, Carolina largely dominated the offensive tempo of the game, making McElhinney work hard in the early going. They got eight of the game’s first nine shots and very few of them were cheapies from low-damage areas.
The tides turned quickly, though, halfway through the period when Tampa started building their game and pinning the Hurricanes in their own end. A long shift in Carolina’s zone ended in an interference penalty on Joel Edmundson and Tamps got the games first power play. Then, they capitalized on it. Kevin Shattenkirk’s long-range shot found its way through a maze of players in front of Mrazek and ended up in the back of the Carolina net to flip the script and make it a 2-1 Tampa lead.
Carolina got a power play of their own later in the first, but they failed to do much of anything, and the Bolts rode that momentum to the game’s fourth goal - a high-slot snipe from Steven Stamkos (again, through traffic) to extend Carolina’s deficit to 3-1 through 20 minutes.
The second period was much slower in terms of tempo, especially for the Lightning as they managed a modest zero shots on goal in the middle frame. That’s not easy to do against the Bolts.
On the other side, the Canes got 17 shots on net (the same number as the first period) and got one of them by McElhinney.
Erik Haula came though with a hugely important power play goal at 13:49 of the period. A point shot from Dougie Hamilton led to a rebound in front and Haula deposited his third goal in as many games as a Hurricane to cut the Tampa lead to 3-2.
Just like games one and two of the season, the third period was absolutely owned by the Hurricanes. After a slower start, Carolina gained steam throughout the period and drew a penalty with 7:34 to go in regulation time. On that crucial power play, a great series of passing led to another goal from what was formerly known as the second power play unit (now known as the first power play unit, in my book) led to a Dougie Hamilton one-time blast from the top of the point. That rocket went right by McElhinney and capped off yet another two-goal comeback from the Hurricanes.
A lot of action late in the third period resulted in a number of scoring chances for Carolina, but Tampa managed to hold them at bay and force a 3-on-3 overtime.
After not cashing in on a power play that bled over into the extra frame, the two teams returned to 5-on-5 action, but just a matter of moments later, the game-deciding goal was scored off of the stick of Jaccob Slavin.
Jordan Staal did away with Nikita Kucherov at the Carolina blue line, took the puck up ice, and fed Slavin for a one-time bomb from his off-side. The missile of a shot beat McElhinney up stairs.
With Sunday’s win, the Hurricanes are 3-0-0 for the first time since relocation in 1997. In each of their first three games, Carolina managed to overcome third-period deficits and pull through in overtime/shootout.
Post Game Quotes
[On how meaningful it is for this team to pull through and win these kinds of games] I think it just shows that the guys believe in each other already. And I think they understand how to play to be successful at our game. They trust it. There are still some things to sure up, but I liked the effort - you can’t fault that. It’s there right from the get-go. Tonight was a pretty complete game - we had a couple of gaffs and that team (Tampa) will kill you with those, almost like clockwork - but I just give the guys credit. They dug in there and dug themselves out.
I thought our first period was great. We had a tremendous amount of opportunities, but we just gave up too many easy ones. The rest of the game, we took that part out.
[On how their special teams came through in a big way] That’s the key. That might be the difference in the whole game, right now. We’re getting out special teams going here and there, and that just gets you back in the game. Special teams can be huge. They had a chance to go up 4-1, and we killed that penalty - it keeps you in the game, and obviously, scoring the power play goal gets you right back in the game. It’s a big part of today’s game, especially with all of the weird penalties. You never know when you’re going to call one, so it’s become so, so important.
[On how he rolled with the second power play unit again] I would’ve been stupid not to (make the Hamilton power play unit the first unit). We’ve built in a way where we feel like we have two equal groups - and we do, we spread it out. When one is hot, you roll with it. We’ll definitely need both units going, and we might tinker as we get going, but it’s nice to see it working right now.