TAMPA, Fla. — The Carolina Hurricanes have plenty of experience making Andrei Vasilevskiy look good. For nearly 50 minutes Tuesday, they did just that.
Teuvo Teravainen’s tap-in on the power play secured a point for the Hurricanes, who then scored twice in overtime – only one of which counted. Martin Necas’ goal 3:26 into the extra session got the Hurricanes back on the winning path with a 2-1 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Hurricanes nearly surrendered a goal on the first shift of the game, when the Lightning missed two open nets and Carolina had all they could do to simply clear the zone. But the two shots the Lightning were credited with in that flurry were two-thirds of their total output in the period, as the Hurricanes tilted the ice toward Vasilevskiy.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi nearly registered the Canes’ first goal midway through the first, but he couldn’t get to an awkwardly-located puck between his legs to Vasilevskiy’s left and the Lightning cleared the danger. Teravainen also missed an open net on a power play, and despite outshooting Tampa Bay 12-3 in the period the Hurricanes found themselves with this as the period lowlight:
Anyone who’s watched this movie before knew what was coming, and Ondrej Palat nearly got the seemingly inevitable goal three minutes into the second, only to be robbed by an acrobatic Frederik Andersen save while lying prone in the crease.
The Hurricanes’ best chance of the night – or, at least, what should have been their best chance – was on a 5-on-3 minutes later. For 1:35, the Canes had a two-man advantage, compounded by Vasilevskiy losing a skate blade and being unable to move side to side.
Instead of taking advantage of the situation, the Hurricanes were content to sit back and let the play come to them, infuriatingly passing the puck like they were playing catch and only occasionally taking a shot that inevitably missed the net. The Lightning penalty killers barely needed to move, to say nothing of their goalie, who literally couldn’t.
Once that power play went by the wayside, everyone in the building knew what would eventually happen, and Steven Stamkos obliged with the millionth one-timer from the left circle of his career.
The Amalie Arena scoreboard posted the shot map for the second period at the intermission, and it was quite instructive: outside of Stamkos’ goal, every Lightning shot came from the slot, while the Hurricanes took 10 shots and all but two of them came from outside the danger zone in front of the Tampa net.
For the second game in a row, Rod Brind’Amour jumbled his lines to begin the 3rd period. Martin Necas was promoted to Aho’s right wing, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi dropping to the fourth line and Seth Jarvis taking his place to Vincent Trocheck’s left.
Svechnikov had Vasilevskiy dead to rights five feet in front of the crease on his first shift of the period, but to the surprise of absolutely no Hurricanes fan, he shot it high, helped along by a slight deflection off the top of Vasilevskiy’s stick.
A bizarre sequence led to the Hurricanes earning a power play, with a point shot bouncing off Andersen’s shoulder and off the crossbar, somehow staying out. Then, with Stamkos in the box for an interference penalty that no one actually knew was being called on the Lightning due to an absurdly late whistle, the Hurricanes finally did the thing and tied the game. For the first time all night, pinpoint passing got Vasilevskiy moving sideways, and Teravainen cashed in for his third of the season to knot it at 1.
Steven Lorentz nearly gave the Hurricanes the lead with 5:30 to go in regulation, after a Jaccob Slavin shot trickled through Vasilevskiy, but he was a split second too late and only got the post. That loomed large a few seconds later, when Trocheck went to the box for tripping and the Lightning got their fourth power play of the night.
Andersen wasn’t called on much all night, but he was big when the Hurricanes needed him, making two saves on the power play to keep the game tied. The Hurricanes were content to play for overtime, but Palat nearly ended it before then, his last-ditch effort blockered away by Andersen with five seconds left.
He did it again 1:30 into overtime, standing tall one-on-one against Anthony Cirelli to extend the game. That gave the Hurricanes the opening they needed, and Brady Skjei ended it at 1:39 off the rush on a shot that Vasilevskiy saw but couldn't stop over his glove.
Or did he?
After a review, it was determined that Trocheck was offside by a stride on the entry. The game continued, and Cirelli nearly ended it but sent it wide with 2:30 to go. But a minute later, Martin Necas decided that he had enough of this tomfoolery and ended it with a snipe from the high slot, again over Vasilevskiy’s glove, to put the Canes back on the winning path.