In what might have been the hardest-fought game of the season, the Hurricanes pulled through and came up with a massive win on Thursday night, topping the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout.
Warren Foegele was the catalyst for the game’s first goal, just 50 seconds into the first period. Jaccob Slavin’s dump-in was retrieved by the Sharks below the goal line, but Foegele hunted down an unsuspecting Brent Burns, picked his pocket, and found a wide-open Andrei Svechnikov streaking through the slot to make it a 1-0 game.
Hard work was exactly what the Canes needed in the opening moments to score the first goal, but they lacked smart work just over seven minutes into the period, and it led to a San Jose goal.
The combination of Carolina’s fourth forward line and third defensive pairing got pinned in their own end of the ice while Joe Thornton was on the ice, and as those situations tend to go, it didn’t end well for the Canes.
Some miscommunication from Jake Gardiner and Clark Bishop along the boards led to them covering the same man and Marcus Sorenson slipped free as Thornton rushed to the net. Petr Mrazek was committed to the shot, but Thornton laid a slick pass through the crease to Sorenson for a wide-open backdoor tap-in to tie the game.
A Brett Pesce hooking penalty shortly thereafter put Carolina shorthanded for the first time of the evening. The Sharks’ immensely struggling power play generated plenty of zone time, but it was the combination of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen that produced the best scoring chance in those two minutes.
Catching the Sharks being overly aggressive, the Canes sprung a two-on-one chance the other way, and it was only the glove of Aaron Dell that stood in the way of the Canes retaking the lead.
A great chance on the rush as time expired in the first period was soiled by Foegele passing up a point-blank shot on a mostly open goal and passing to a heavily covered Dougie Hamilton in the slot. The shot never reached the net and the period came to a close with both teams knotted at a goal apiece.
The second period saw much more action, but it rendered the same scoring.
Carolina regained the lead at the 10:12 mark. A great transitional rush from the Canes was capped off by a perfect centering feed from Foegele to Gardiner, and everyone’s favorite defenseman made good on his chance and buried his second goal of the season.
For those wondering, Gardiner was a +1 on the play.
Then things got interesting...
An offensive zone possession ended with a cover-up by Mrazek. After he stopped play, Thornton took an additional jab at the puck. Mrazek then attempted to slash Thornton and missed, which prompted the 40-year-old center to punch Mrazek in the mask. The goalie fell on his back, madness ensued.
Mrazek got two for slashing (or attempting to, I guess?) and Thornton got four minutes in penalties for their roles in the fracas.
After an unsuccessful man advantage from the Hurricanes, there was a short period of even-strength play late in the middle frame, and that’s where the game got evened up again.
Erik Karlsson waited and sent an excellent pass to Logan Couture, and his long-range shot beat Mrazek clean on the blocker side with less than 20 seconds left in the period to tie the game at two.
The third period had some carryover emotions, and those played out via uptick in physical play from both teams. Checks were finished and finished hard by both clubs as they exchanged some high-quality chances either way.
The final frame had an excellent pace, but neither team could find the back of the net. As a result, the heated inter-conference matchup went to overtime at PNC Arena.
Carolina was electric through the first two minutes of the extra frame. Teuvo Teravainen sent a high shot off the chest of Dell, the Canes regained possession, and Hamilton rang one right off the post from the dead slot. It was his second trip to the post office on the night.
Nino Niederreiter had a marvelous chance of his own late in the overtime period, but his one-timer got rifled wide of the net.
After five minutes of 3-on-3 hockey that felt like two hours, the Hurricanes and Sharks went to shootout.
The goalies were perfect in shootout through two rounds, but it was Dell who broke in round three. Svechnikov slowly walked in and buried a shot on his forehand to give the Canes the lead. Couture looked to respond, but all he got was Mrazek’s pad.
It was an exhausting night, but when it ended, the Hurricanes were 3-2 winners over the Sharks and they secured a huge, hard-fought two points.
Svechnikov started and ended the scoring and added an assist on Gardiner’s second-period goal. Foegele logged two primary assists on the night and had one of his best games of the season. Mrazek stopped 28 of 30 shots and went unscathed in the shootout in his NHL-best ninth win on home ice this season.
Now 17-11-1 on the season, the Hurricanes will be back at PNC Arena on Saturday when they host the Minnesota Wild.