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Niederreiter scores late, Canes top Stars in shootout for fourth straight win

The Hurricanes are 3-0 since returning from a 10-day pause due to COVID issues.

Nino Niederreiter celebrates with teammates after a goal late in the third period to send the game against the Dallas Stars into overtime, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021 in PNC Arena. The Canes won in a shootout, 4-3.
Kaydee Gawlik

Going into a three-game stretch against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars without Jaccob Slavin, Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen, it would have been reasonable for the Canes to be happy with two or three points. They got all six.

Thanks to a late, game-tying goal from Nino Niederreiter, shootout goals from Vincent Trocheck and Dougie Hamilton, 27 saves (and two shootout stops from) James Reimer, a goal and assist from Jordan Staal and a shorthanded goal from Brock McGinn, the Canes topped the Stars 4-3 in the shootout for their fourth straight win Sunday.

A holding penalty against Hamilton gave Dallas a 4-on-3 power play with 2:47 left in overtime, but the Canes killed it off and the game eventually headed to the shootout despite an excellent last-second chance for Haydn Fleury that Anton Khudobin got a pad to.

The Canes’ penalty kill was stellar in this one, holding Dallas scoreless on five power plays despite missing five key penalty killers. Carolina is 13 for 14 on the penalty kill in its last three games.

As time began to run out and the Canes needed a big play to knot it up, Niederrieter obliged. With 2:35 remaining, the Swiss winger took a pass from Brett Pesce and blasted a shot home off the wing to make it 3-3.

For the second game in a row, the Hurricanes’ power play struck early. Following some crisp puck movement, Hamilton let a shot fly from the point, and Staal tipped it home past Anton Khudobin to make it 1-0 not quite two minutes in. The goal extended Staal’s point streak since coming off the NHL’s COVID protocol list to three games.

The Canes played another excellent first period and could have been up more than 1-0 at the break, outshooting Dallas 12-3 through 20 minutes.

The Canes saw another injury scare early in the second period as Jamie Benn left both feet and hit Staal high, and the Canes captain headed to the locker room. The hit was only assessed a minor penalty, which the Stars killed off. Staal later returned to the bench, a positive development in what’s been a rough 24 hours injury wise for the Canes.

Dallas tied the game at one about eight minutes into the second as Reimer couldn’t quite cleanly glove a Jamie Benn shot off the rush, and Jamie Oleksiak knocked in the rebound.

Oleksiak’s goal was the first the Canes allowed at even strength since the second period of their third game against Nashville, a span of 170:58.

Following a bit of a lull when Staal was out, the Canes’ special teams again made a difference late in the second period. With Dallas on a power play, it was the Canes who capitalized, with Jordan Staal making a great play in the neutral zone, stripping John Klingberg and setting up a shorthanded rush for McGinn, who blasted a shot past Khudobin to make it 2-1.

Rookie forward Steven Lorentz continued to impress, coming back and making a great play defensively early in the third to thwart what would have otherwise been a breakaway for Roope Hintz.

Before Niederreiter’s heroics, the Stars controlled much of a third period that featured too many defensive lapses for Carolina. After the Canes killed off a questionable goalie interference call against Andrei Svechnikov early in the third, Dallas tied the game at two with a shot off the rush and through Reimer’s five-hole by Andrew Cogliano.

With eight minutes to go in a third period Dallas had controlled to that point, Benn took a cross-ice pass from Alexander Radulov and wrapped it home to make it a 3-2 game.

The Canes will be back in action in Chicago against the Blackhawks Tuesday night, and will hope to get some or all of Teravainen, Martinook, Foegele and Slavin, each of whom has been removed from the COVID protocol list, back.