The Carolina Hurricanes completed a four-point trip to Sunrise, Florida Monday night, topping the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime thanks to a gem in net from Alex Nedeljkovic and a beautiful overtime winner from Martin Necas.
Nedeljkovic left everything on the ice to lead Carolina to the win, putting up 44 saves on 46 Florida shots in maybe the best performance of his NHL career so far. Necas netted the game winner in overtime after Vincent Trocheck tied things up with just 1:33 left in the third period, with Necas slotting home a perfect feed from Sebastian Aho.
An absolute beauty to win it! pic.twitter.com/n4eR3aGf4j— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 2, 2021
The Hurricanes got on the board first with a rocket from Brett Pesce in the opening period, but things went cool after that as Florida controlled most of regulation. The Panthers scored twice in the third period to take the lead, as Frank Vatrano scored the first and former Hurricane Eetu Luostarinen netted the second. Both goals came off rebounds from strong Nedeljkovic saves.
Carolina certainly didn’t play its best game, getting outshot 46-27, but the performance of Nedeljkovic helped keep the Canes alive long enough to strike. Chris Driedger suffered the loss in net for the Panthers, stopping 24 of 27 shots faced.
Carolina scored first in the opening period as Pesce blasted a perfectly placed, one-timer slapshot past Driedger on the power play. Florida’s Patric Hornqvist went to the box for roughing, and Pesce scored a minute later with the rocket off a good feed from Jake Bean. Jesper Fast provided a needed screen in front of Driedger in net.
The second period was defined by a lot of whistles and a lot of strong penalty kills, as each team went to the box three different times in the middle frame. The Panthers had the best opportunity to find a goal late in the period, with an Andrei Svechnikov roughing shortly followed by a Dougie Hamilton tripping gave Florida 1:28 of 4-on-3 hockey.
The Canes’ penalty kill came up big though, as Carolina held Florida off the board and entered the second intermission with its 1-0 lead still intact. Nedeljkovic made a key save early on in the 4-on-3, flashing the glove to deny Aaron Ekblad.
Florida came out strong in the third period and it paid off with a game-tying goal from Vatrano early in the final frame, as the Panthers overloaded the Canes in the corner and Vatrano scraped in a rebound.
Nedeljkovic, who had been fantastic to keep the Panthers off the board, couldn’t do much, as both Brock McGinn and Pesce couldn’t get the puck cleared from in front of net. Vatrano, falling to the ice, was able to slot it in and make it 1-1.
Luostarinen made it 2-1 late in the third period, with Nedljkovic coming up with a couple big saves to deny Florida before the rebound eventually found its way to the former Cane and into the back of the net.
Rod Brind’Amour pulled Nedeljkovic with about two minutes left in the game and it almost immediately paid off, as Trocheck tied things up against his former team. The Canes got the puck deep to Nino Niederreiter behind the net, who slotted a beautiful pass to Trocheck in the danger zone.
Trocheck didn’t miss, wristing his shot into the net to even things back up with just 1:33 remaining in the game.
The Canes won the game 1:59 into the overtime period, as Necas and Aho sprung out on the break together to link up for a great goal and two points.
Carolina will be back on the ice in Nashville Tuesday night, as the Canes and Predators will meet for the second time this season.