With thoughts of a quicker drive back home filling their minds, the startling sensation of a deep, resonant goal horn just 15 seconds later shocked them to their cores, inducing a rush back to their still warm, red stadium seats.
San Jose simply imploded. They won the faceoff, got the clear into Carolina’s zone, but then they allowed Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho to slip by for a 2-on-1, with Teravainen hitting Aho in stride and the Finnish star buried it.
The lead was down to one and the Canes were back in it and ready to go to work.
“I kind of had the feeling that we might get one more and obviously we got one chance and it was back to a one-goal game,” Aho said.
With time ticking down, Carolina kept pushing.
Three straight faceoff wins, shots pouring in, and finally the dam burst again.
Jordan Staal wins the draw. It cycles back to Brent Burns. His shot is blocked in front. Andrei Svechnikov collects the rebound and throws it on net. The puck trickles out to Martin Necas on the other side and he doesn’t miss.
The clock read 0:12. The game was tied. Carolina had climbed all the way back.
And overtime doesn’t last too long as just 55 seconds in, Svechnikov and Necas break out for a 2-on-1. Svechnikov skates down the middle, dishes it off to Necas who buries the feed for his second straight OT winner.
“Honestly, it wasn’t the best game for us, but just like they say, good teams find a way and we did somehow today,” Necas said. “[Aho] had two huge goals to give us a chance. [Raanta] gave us a chance at the end there too on that 2-on-1 making a big save. Then we got a couple goals and you could feel it was coming for us.”
The Comeback Canes had done it.
“We believe in each other and there’s no quit in this team either,” Aho said. “We work hard till the games over and obviously that was the case tonight.”
If you only tuned in for the final three minutes of game action, you would have thought the whole thing was a barn burner chocked full of action, but for 40 minutes, it was some ugly, disjointed hockey.
The Canes were on their heels early, with the Sharks controlling most of the offensive pressure, but poor play from both teams kept the game scoreless.
However, San Jose managed to get the first goal of the game off of a broken play as an Evgeny Svechnikov shot deflected in off of Oskar Lindblom. Steven Lorentz picked up the secondary assist on the goal, making the “Guys You Love to Root for Regardless of Team” line all show up on the scoresheet.
And after a mostly sleepy start to the period, the Hurricanes still managed to get themselves onto the board late thanks to, yet again, a goal by a defenseman.
With some heavy play on the puck to retain possession, Jesperi Kotakaniemi cycled the puck out to the blueline where Dylan Coghlan put it back into the zone with a floating shot.
Reimer kicked the rebound out, but unfortunately for him, it was a rolling puck right to Calvin de Haan who shot it right back in on him for the equalizer.
“I feel like I was due for one at some point, but it’s always nice to contribute,” de Haan said. “I’m not relied on to score goals on this team. I’ve just got to play quality minutes and do my best to play simple hockey. But at the end of the day, it’s always nice to contribute and get on the score sheet.”
The second period tracked on with no changes to the score and with very few high-danger chances racked up. But the third period saw the Canes strike quick.
Starting out the period with some leftover power play time, Carolina made a zone entry push and Stefan Noesen hit Aho streaking down the middle of the ice. The centerman reached out and tipped the puck in through Reimer’s five-hole, to give his team the lead just 17 seconds into the period.
The Hurricanes rode that momentum, generating a few more grade-A looks, but Reimer stood tall, ending up having to turn aside Aho multiple times.
But a defensive breakdown by the Canes saw that momentum fade as the blueline allowed Nick Bonino to slip in behind them and he roofed a shot in close on Antti Raanta.
The game continued to slip back into its lulling habits and after a successful penalty kill by Carolina, San Jose stole a lead. The Canes never had the chance to clear the puck following the kill and Michael Eyssimont whipped on on net from the top of the circles, beating Raanta who never saw the shot through a screen of bodies.
Fast forward a little bit and you can relive the magic.
“That game got its entertainments worth, that’s for sure,” Brind’Amour said. “For the people that left, hopefully they didn’t get out of the building because I saw a mass exodus there and then all of a sudden... it was a great finish.”
The Hurricanes will be back in action on Sunday as they host the league’s top team, the Boston Bruins, at 5 p.m. at PNC Arena.