The Carolina Hurricanes won yet another comeback game in extra time as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a final score of 4-3.
The Canes (3-0-0) rallied from an early 3-1 deficit after the conclusion of the first period, to win the game 4-3 in overtime. Timely goals by Erik Haula and Dougie Hamilton on the power play helped push the Hurricanes to overtime where defenseman Jaccob Slavin won it.
“I think it just shows that the guys believe in each other already which is great,” head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think they understand how to play to be successful, they get our game and they trust it. Still, some things to shore up, but I like the effort, you just can’t fault that.”
Seeing a familiar face, the Hurricanes were matched up against former teammate goalie Curtis McElhinney who had helped guide Carolina back to the playoffs last season alongside current starting goaltender Petr Mrazek.
“He’s a great goalie,” said defenseman Dougie Hamilton on McElhinney. “We just got lucky to put a couple by him.”
The Canes and McElhinney failed to agree to mutual terms on a new contract for the 36-year-old journeyman netminder and, instead, McElhinney decided to sign a two-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth an average annual value of $1.2 million.
Now, the former touted tandem faced off against one another as each tried to secure the big two points for their teams, but despite a great effort from McElhinney, who made 40 saves, it was Mrazek’s team that triumphed.
The Hurricanes started off great early in the first period. After ringing a shot off of the goal post, Carolina maintained control of the puck in the offensive zone resulting in a Brett Pesce shot from the blueline being redirected by Andrei Svechnikov past McElhinney.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Tampa was swift on the response. Tyler Johnson skated the puck to the top of the right circle and let go of a slapshot that cleanly beat Mrazek, while also being the first shot he faced, through no traffic.
Despite the Canes buzzing all around the net, a sudden shift in momentum brought on by the Lightning’s top line turned the tide of the game. Drawing an early penalty, Tampa Bay scored just seconds into its ensuing power play as a wrister from the point by Kevin Shattenkirk beat Mrazek after ping-ponging through traffic.
Carolina got a chance on the power play, but after generating no shots on goal, the Lightning promptly skated down into the Hurricanes zone. After trapping the puck in the zone for an extended period, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos caught a clearing attempt at the blue line, skated it down to the right circle and released a heavy wrister that found the back of the net.
The second period was a showcase for the Hurricanes resilience that had already completed two comeback victories on the season. Despite Tampa controlling a large portion of the neutral zone time and possession, they failed to register a shot in the entire period.
“In the first period we had too many turnovers and obviously that’s their game, feeding off of those,” said alternate captain Jaccob Slavin. “In the neutral zone or at our blue line, we had too many of those and once we eliminated those and started getting pucks in deep and behind their ‘D’ we let our forwards go to work and we put on our grind game.”
Carolina took advantage of the Lightning’s inability to get a shot off late in the period as they were awarded another power play after captain Jordan Staal attempted a power move to the net and was impeded by Bolt’s defender Victor Hedman.
The power play came up big and the hero was none other than Erik Haula who scored his third goal in as many games for the Canes, jamming home the rebound left by Hamitlon’s slapshot.
Carolina came calling once again on the power play, this one in the third period and the hero this time was a member of the same power-play unit. On a blast from the point, Hamilton put his all into the slapper that cleanly found its way past two Tampa players and past McElhinney for the game-tying goal with around seven minutes left in the third period.
“We have good players out there in good spots, trying to get good chemistry,” Hamilton said. “We practice a lot and it’s hard to score in practice, but we’ve done well lately in the last couple of games so we just got to keep going and making sure we are doing the right thing.”
The Lightning only managed to put up two shots in the third period after having none in the second and barely weathered the Hurricanes storm as the team kept pounding.
To make matters worse for the Bolts, they were assessed a penalty in the final minute of the third period which the Hurricanes did not score on in the 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
Heading to overtime, the Hurricanes had 1:16 of carryover power-play time that they could not capitalize on. However, the Canes didn’t need the man advantage as Staal forced Nikita Kucherov off the puck in the Hurricanes zone, raced with the puck up the ice and fed Jaccob Slavin on the other side for the one-timer finish.
“[Assistant Coach Dean Chynoweth] has us working on our shot after practice,” Slavin said on how the defensemen have been contributing offensively already this season. “Obviously, we have a pretty skilled group of defensemen back there from top to bottom and all of us can skate so we are just trying to contribute anyway we can.”
The victory marked the third straight extra-time comeback victory for the Canes, having beaten the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in the shootout, the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime and now the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime.
“When you have to rely on everyone to have a good game to kind of dig in and come back, I mean it’s not ideal,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s not how you want to draw it up, but the fact that everyone is contributing and giving it what they can, it’s a good starter for us.”
The Hurricanes' next opponent will be the Florida Panthers, as the team heads down south to see if they can win extend their winning streak to four games and maybe this time without going to extra time. The game is set for Tuesday, Oct. 8, with puck drop at 7 p.m.