For 55 minutes, every fan in PNC Arena held their breath.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche had been exchanging high-danger chances, shots off the pipes, odd-man rushes and more back and forth, but yet each team’s netminder were making saves bigger than the last.
It seemed like a game destined for overtime.
But then the ice broke.
Not by a slick toe drag or dazzling snipe, but a shot from the point from Ethan Bear that deflected off a few bodies — his third goal of the season.
It was such an innocent shot, preceded by a nothing play — Jesper Fast winning a race to the boards to keep a forechecking shift alive — but that’s exactly the kind of plays that this game needed to decide a winner.
Win a battle and get pucks to the net. Let fate decide the rest.
And fate decided that the Hurricanes were going to be the bearers of fortune Thursday night as they shutout the Avalanche 2-0 at PNC Arena.
Sebastian Aho picked up the empty-netter at the end for his 25th goal of the season to seal the game.
Words can’t do justice to the back and forth, high-octane affair that the two teams were engaged in. Usually a game with a 0-0 score through the first 55 minutes can be described as anything but well-worth it entertainment, but this game was the exception.
It was a battle between the two best teams in the league and it showed just how close one team was to the other.
The biggest difference makers in the game were hands down the goaltenders though.
Antti Raanta shined the brightest as he turned aside 36 shots for his second shutout of the season and third win in a row, but Darcy Kuemper — Raanta’s longtime partner in Arizona — was no slouch either, stopping 35 shots including 14 in the opening 10 minutes of the game.
The game had a playoff atmosphere, being a tightly played affair with the two explosive offenses exchanging looks and it’s a shame that the two teams will only see each other one other time this season unless they were to meet in the Stanly Cup Final.
It was a good game, great atmosphere and most importantly, two more points for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes will be back in action on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. as they host the Philadelphia Flyers at PNC Arena.