After a 10-day hiatus, the Carolina Hurricanes returned to PNC Arena for their home opener and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in overtime Thursday night.
Down five players due to COVID-19 protocol (Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook, Jesper Fast, Jaccob Slavin and Warren Foegele), the Hurricanes turned to their organizational depth calling up Morgan Geekie, Jake Bean, Max McCormick and Steven Lorentz — who was making his NHL debut — from the taxi squad as well as Sheldon Rempal from the Chicago Wolves.
Other than a penalty in the opening minutes of the game, the Hurricanes did not look like a team that hadn’t played in 10 days. The team was energized and ready, especially the fourth line — composed of taxi squad callups — which generated quite a few offensive chances.
The Canes looked stellar and were backstopped by a wall manifesting itself as Petr Mrazek, who was calm and collected and tracked the puck well all night, including a handful of marvelous saves.
He was especially important for Carolina in the second period, where the Lightning began to tilt the ice in their favor, outshooting Carolina by double.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, however, was just as sharp on the other side as Carolina piled on the shots and chances, but were stymied at every turn.
The game was a hard fought battle between both teams that saw each with multiple power plays and grade-A chances, but the goaltenders truly were the highlight of the night.
Eventually the game had to be decided in overtime as both teams failed to find the back of the net in regulation, and that was where Martin Necas won it for the Canes.
After an attempt in close was stopped by Vasilevskiy and cleared, Necas regained the puck and passed it out to Jordan Staal who returned the favor back to a streaking Necas who beat out all the other Tampa players on the ice including Vasilevskiy.
A potentially unhailed aspect of the win was the ability of the Canes’ penalty kill to come up perfectly against the Lightning despite being down the majority of their most relied upon killers. For fresh faces like McCormick and Lorentz, but also regulars like Martin Necas, to get time on the kill and be successful was huge.
The Canes will continue their season Saturday night as they return to PNC Arena to take on the Dallas Stars.