The Hurricanes rode a big night from their goalie and some timely goals to a 4-3 overtime win Thursday night. Alex Nedeljkovic made 33 saves in net, Martin Necas tallied a goal and an assist, Sebastian Aho scored the overtime winner and Cedric Paquette and Nino Niederreiter also scored.
Paquette, Niederreiter, Aho and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media following the victory, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Alex Nedeljkovic: Obviously he was great. He got us the two points tonight, plain and simple. We had a good first period, other than our power play, but other than that, we weren’t very good, I feel. He made some real big saves, allowed us to just kind of hang around and get two points.
On Martin Necas’ confidence: It’s a real factor. He’s basically stepped up into a role that wasn an opportunity that’s been given to him through injuries. That extra ice time, those extra opportunities. He’s flourishing right now, thankfully for us. He’s played really well. And obviously in specialty areas, when we’ve got overtimes and what not, that’s more ice for him and it’s when he really can excel. So it’s been, not a pleasant surprise, because we could see this coming, but it’s definitely something we needed.
On the third-period line changes: Did you see us play in that third period? We were just flat, a little bit. We needed to shake things up somehow. That’s about it, to be quite honest with you.
On the Canes’ mental toughness: I don’t know what it is. Nothing fazes this group, and that’s good and bad. I think sometimes we just can keep playing not necessarily good. It’s like they don’t even realize we’re not playing good. It’s like ‘It’s OK, we’re fine,’ and I’m losing it. I think it really is something to be said. Whatever happens out there, it’s always about that next shift, and they haven’t been fazed by it. It’s a testament to the guys. Certainly not me, because I’m losing my mind when I see all that stuff.
On Martin Necas’ skill: It is unteachable. A lot of our young guys have that offensive flair that you don’t teach. You don’t mess with it. You let it simmer. It’s the other parts of the game that you try to get them to dial in so that you can play them all the time. That’s essentially it. He’s learning all that, and I think he’s just growing in confidence. The offense, we already knew it would be there, it’s just that you’ve got to be able to play the other stuff so that we can keep putting you out there.
On gathering themselves after Columbus tied the game at 2: It was a very tough game for us overall. We didn’t play the way we wanted to play and everything was very choppy and took a lot of effort. It wasn’t very good, but we found a way to win which was huge.
On Slavin feeding the puck through to him for his goal: That was definitely big. Obviously we got a big faceoff win by [Jordan Staal] and we knew we had to get pucks to the net and go there. I’m glad I got rewarded and gave us a chance to win the game. But like I said, overall it wasn’t a very good game for us.
On Nedeljkovic’s play: He definitely won the game for us. The way we played wasn’t good enough and he held us in the game all night long. He was terrific for us and we were very fortunate to have him.
On Martin Necas being underrated: I know how good he is. In my mind he’s not. Our team knows how good he is, but maybe for the media and other teams. Maybe underrated, I don’t know. But our team for sure knows how good he is.
On Nedeljkovic’s play: I saw a lot of key saves that kept us in the game. Actually it was every period I feel like he made at least three to four great saves. Sometimes when the team isn’t playing that well your goalie can bail you out and Ned for sure won this one for us.
On the team collecting themselves after giving up the lead late: I always look at it like there’s only one option. You go out there and try to end the game and score a goal. If you go and sit back there, I feel like that never works. Sitting back in OT and not playing aggressive. I feel like the more aggressive team wins most of the games. I know I had Necas and Dougie with me out there so I know I’m out there with great players who can make plays, so I feel pretty confident to go out there.
On getting six of a possible eight points out of the four-game series with Columbus: These games were two good teams playing the right way and with not a lot of room. It definitely was a grind game. Every single one of them. Obviously we expect to win every single one, but these last two were big ones.
On these long series feeling like the playoffs: Almost. If not, it’s not far from it. We played a lot of games against that team and you know every face there and you’re facing the same players a lot of times, so the games are pretty intense. But they’re fun to play.
On what was the difference in getting six points off of Columbus: We wanted to win those two at home, but we came back here with the mentality to win one game at a time and that’s what we did.
On the response from his shift immediately following Columbus’ first goal: Rod didn’t have to say anything. I think we knew we needed to bring a good shift and bring intensity and I think we did that. We had a good shift in the O-zone and we ended up having a goal, so it was a big shift for us.
On enjoying his role on the team in being a physical presence: I love it. I’m always ready for a game like that. I think in the second we started to play a little more physical and I thought we responded great and obviously those two goals before the period’s end were huge.
On playing with Steven Lorentz and Morgan Geekie: They’re two really good, young players and they’ll be good in the league for a long time. They have a great attitude. They come to the rink ready to work. They work hard and they have fun. I think that’s the key and I’m enjoying playing with them right now.
On settling in with the team: I think it took me a couple of games, but I think I’ve been pretty constant in my game, playing the same way every night. Some games less, some games more, but I’m always ready when they ask me to go on the ice and I think I’ve brought what they’ve asked me for.
On Nedeljkovic’s play: He was unreal. I think the last couple of games he has played well, but tonight he got tested a lot. Lots of odd-man chances, grade-As in the slot and he was huge. He played the puck a lot which helps us in breaking out. He was unreal tonight.