Coming off back-to-back home losses, the Carolina Hurricanes got their first point in a week Saturday night with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.
The Canes got off to a slow start, as the Canadiens built up a 3-0 early in the second period. Carolina bounced back well though, scoring three straight goals to end regulation and get a much-needed point in the standings.
The chance for two points slipped away from the Canes early in the OT period, as a costly mistake led to a breakaway game-winning goal for Jeff Petry.
A masterclass in screening the goalie
The Hurricanes battled back to gain a point with three straight goals to end regulation Saturday night, and all three goals were made possible by some great work in front of Charlie Lindgren in Montreal’s net.
The Canes’ first goal of the night came from defenseman Haydn Fleury, who rifled one from the point past Lindgren to cut Carolina’s deficit to 3-1. It was Hurricanes’ captain Jordan Staal who set the screen for Fleury on this one, doing just enough in front of the net to make Lindgren’s life hard.
Haydn Fleury with a rocket. Jordan Staal won the face off and set the screen. Fleury's 4th goal of the year puts the Hurricanes on the board. pic.twitter.com/oCRRucguS5— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) March 1, 2020
The second goal for the Canes came from another defenseman, as Joel Edmundson wristed one from the point that Lindgren never really saw. Andrei Svechnikov was camped out perfectly in between the Canadiens’ goal and Edmundson, and the quiet shot from the Canes’ blue liner was placed perfectly to make it a one-goal game.
Joel Edmundson, top shelf from down town. Andrei Svechnikov with a great screen. The Hurricanes are within one in Montreal, it's a 3-2 game early in the third period. pic.twitter.com/43mvhClfBv— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) March 1, 2020
With their net empty and just a minute and 17 seconds left, Hurricanes’ veteran Justin Williams tied the game with a great deflection to get Carolina a point. It was Edmundson who provided the point shot again, but this time Williams was camped between the circles to offer a deflection that worked to perfection.
The screen this time was set by Nino Niederreiter, and it was yet another perfect example of how to block the goalie’s vision. Lindgren didn’t know the puck was coming until it was past him, as he wasn’t seeing much apart from a big red ‘21’ in his face.
Who else but Willy?! pic.twitter.com/QeFdkL8tPM— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 1, 2020
A smart change
Rod Brind’Amour made a big call during the game Saturday night, and it paid off with a point in the standings. After allowing three goals in the opening 24:03 of play, Anton Forsberg was replaced in net by Alex Nedeljkovic.
Nedeljkovic made the most of his chance in net, stopping all 18 shots he faced in regulation. He eventually gave up the game-winning goal in overtime, but he was left out to try after a Hurricanes’ mistake led to a one-on-one chance for Petry to net the winner.
Both Forsberg and Nedeljkovic are on the Canes roster as injury replacements for James Reimer and Petr Mrazek, and it’s been somewhat of a shaky start to their NHL seasons. Nedeljkovic got the first start Tuesday against the Stars, surrendering four goals on just 16 shots faced.
Forsberg started Friday night in a loss to the Avalanche, and he played well in that one to earn another start Saturday night. However, Forsberg just wasn’t sharp in Montreal.
With two goalies playing up for the Hurricanes, it’s all about confidence for the guys between the pipes. If Nedeljkovic’s confidence was shaken Tuesday night, he was able to get some swagger back Saturday with a good performance after Brind’Amour trusted him enough to put him in. On the other hand, Brind’Amour stopped the bleeding of Forsberg to let him live another day.
The overtime difference
The Canes have played a lot of extra hockey this year. Saturday night’s trip to overtime with Montreal was the 15th game Carolina has played that’s gone beyond 60 minutes, and that extra hockey hasn’t been going as well of late.
In Carolina’s last six trips to overtime, the Canes have come up with zero wins in the five-minute three-on-three period. The Hurricanes have lost three of those games, and have won the other three in a shootout.
In the Canes’ first nine extra-time games, they won five during the three-on-three period, two in a shootout and lost two in overtime. So, what’s the big difference between those first nine and the last six? Well, the presence of Dougie Hamilton.
Hamilton added immeasurable value to the Canes in every facet of the game, but he was perhaps at his best when the clock went beyond 60 minutes. As an offensively gifted defenseman, Hamilton is built for three-on-three hockey, and he showed that. In the Canes’ five overtime wins, Hamilton had two goals and an assist.
Since Hamilton’s injury, the Hurricanes haven’t scored a three-on-three overtime goal. The Canes are still great in the shootout, but haven’t had that winning touch in overtime that they had early in the year.
It isn’t all Hamilton; a costly mistake by Teuvo Teravainen cost the Canes Saturday, and there’s really nothing that Hamilton could have done to stop it. But still, his presence has been lacking in that area of the game. There’s nothing the Canes can do about the injury, but it’s still an unfortunate trend that’s cost Carolina a few points.
The Hurricanes did well to secure one point Saturday night, but Carolina will definitely still be upset about letting the possibility of a second point slip away so quickly into the overtime period.
Saturday began a stretch of games that will decide the Hurricanes season. It was the first game of a remarkably important six-game road stretch, one that will make or break Carolina’s season. The Canes will have a few days off before really getting into the grind of the road trip, which will kick back into gear Thursday in Philadelphia.