Well, that happened fast.
In a wonderfully entertaining hockey game between two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, it was the Florida Panthers who topped the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Raleigh Wednesday night in overtime.
The Panthers, down 2-1 after a Tony DeAngelo go-ahead goal early in the third period, tied the game with under a minute left and their own net empty, as Sam Reinhart collected a loose puck and blasted into a mostly open net.
Then 16 seconds into the overtime period, Aaron Ekblad took advantage of some slipshod defending from the Canes and beat Frederik Andersen 1-on-1 to win it for the Panthers.
The game was fast and physical from the start, a true playoff feeling between two teams with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations.
The Hurricanes played a strong first period in a really chippy 20 minutes, getting a late opening goal from Teuvo Teravainen. The Panthers bounced back with a strong second period, with an exceptional individual effort from Aleksander Barkov tying things up at 1-1.
But then Florida owned most of the third, controlling the puck and the scoring chances after DeAngelo’s go-ahead goal to overwhelm the Canes and ultimately win the game.
Not to be lost in the defeat was the effort of Andersen, who made 28 saves in the game and really kept the Canes afloat in the third. Sergei Bobrovsky was solid in the other net as well, stopping 16 of Carolina’s measly 18 shots.
Special teams also played a big, big role in this one with a combined nine penalties, with both teams going 0 for on their chances (the Canes 0 for 4, Florida 0 for 5). Carolina’s power play really struggled (including a fruitless two-minute 5-on-3 spell), but its penalty kill was absolutely unbelievable.
The first period certainly did not lack in the entertainment department. The pace was fast and the action was wild, as the two teams who clearly do not like each other shared some pretty open disdain in the opening 20 minutes.
The biggest moment came on the period’s second skirmish, as the Panthers unleashed a couple of dirty hits away from the puck in a sequence that resulted in the Hurricanes getting a two-minute 5-on-3. These shenanigans came just a few minutes after some questionable hits from Owen Tippett and Andrei Svechnikov led to a slightly smaller get together.
The Canes couldn’t capitalize on that, though, as some overpassing let Florida kill off the full-length two-man disadvantage without too much danger. What danger the Canes did muster was turned away calmly by some good saves from Bobrovsky. The Hurricanes’ PK was better in the first, killing off two separate penalties.
Carolina opened up the scoring late in the period, as a broken stick for the Panthers led to a Canes rush. Ultimately, Teravainen got the puck and scored from a tight angle, blasting it off Bobrovsky’s stick and through his legs.
Tremendous stickhandling by Aho to navigate around a stick-less Aaron Ekblad and dishing it off before MacKenzie Weegar comes over in support.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) February 17, 2022
Then, The Real Turbo™️ catches Bobrovsky by surprise with his spin-and-fire. Excellent stuff. pic.twitter.com/TLQMwvugEN
The second period was another absolutely insane one, with the intensity still ratcheted up to 11.
It looked like Jesperi Kotkaniemi had made it a 2-0 advantage early in the period, but one of the most ridiculous non-goalie saves you’ll ever see from Lucas Carlsson kept it at a one-goal game.
The middle frame featured plenty of trips to the box, with Carolina committing three penalties and Florida committing two. None of the man advantages resulted in a goal, though, as the Canes’ penalty kill was unbelievable and its power play really struggled.
Some of the penalties were quite interesting, too. Mason unleashed a brutal (clean) hit on Vincent Trocheck, who got a penalty for continuing to play without a helmet. Just eight seconds into the Florida power play, Anthony Duclair ended the advantage after whacking away a Carolina stick on the ice with his.
Florida was able to tie things up in the back half of the second period, as Barkov put his full arsenal of skills on display to completely undress Brady Skjei and beat Andersen to make it 1-1.
Carolina took back the advantage early in the third period, as a phenomenally hard-worked shift by Jordan Staal and Nino Niederreiter led to a blast from DeAngelo. Niederreiter and Staal worked to win the puck in the corner, and it made its way out to DeAngelo. Jesper Fast provided a screen and the Canes got a bit of puck luck to make it 2-1.
Excellent work by Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Staal to win the board battle, allowing the captain to get it back out high to 77.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) February 17, 2022
DeAngelo's shot catches a piece of Gustav Forsling on the way past Bobrovsky. pic.twitter.com/e9xQjuOWW0
After the DeAngelo tally, Florida kind of brought the play to the Canes. Carolina didn’t control much of the play, with Andersen singlehandedly (well, with some help from his post once) keeping the Canes on top.
Florida’s persistence paid off late with an extra skater on the ice and its net empty, as a loose puck found its way to Reinhart who had a mostly open net to finish on with under a minute left in the game.
Then in overtime, a quick rush and bad defending made way for Ekblad to win it.
The Canes will be back Friday at home against Nashville.