Hurricanes tie late, win in OT at Florida

Hurricanes right wing Martin Necas celebrates with center Sebastian Aho after Necas scored the winning goal in overtime of Carolina’s 3-2 win Monday over the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. (Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo)

For the second time in as many games in Sunrise, the Hurricanes gave away a third-period lead but found a way to get two points. The Panthers’ Eetu Luostarinen and Carolina’s Vincent Trocheck both scored in the final three-plus minutes to send the game to overtime, and Martin Necas got his third goal of the season in overtime to win it for Carolina 3-2.

Brett Pesce also scored for the Hurricanes, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 44 saves to move Carolina to 14-6-1 on the season, one point behind the Panthers and tied with Tampa Bay in the Central Division.

Three Thoughts

1. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Necas got “lost in the shuffle” in the third period as Carolina tried to fend off the surging Panthers, leading to the right winger sitting for 7:54 straight in the second half of the period. But when it was time to pull Nedeljkovic for an extra attacker when his team was down one in the final minutes, Brind’Amour finally gave Necas a shift.

It was a good thing he found him.

Necas had the secondary assist on Trocheck’s tying goal with 93 seconds left in the regulation, getting the puck down below the red line to Nino Niederreiter, whose one-touch pass to the slot led to the tying goal. Then came overtime.

“I was full of energy for the OT,” Necas said. “I was fresh.”

Necas got the puck in the Carolina end and raced up the left wing. After entering the Panthers zone, he crisscrossed with Sebastian Aho and left the puck for his teammate. Necas then got behind Florida defenseman Anton Stralman and banged in Aho’s pass to the back door to win the game at 1:59 of overtime.

It marked the second time Necas has scored at least two points in a game. The other was the Hurricanes’ wild game in Toronto last season — not the David Ayres game, the other wild one — that Carolina lost 8-6. It was also the second time in the last three days that Necas put the final nail in the Panthers’ coffin — he had the shootout clincher on Saturday.

2. Trocheck continues to victimize his former team. After Luostarinen — the only player the Panthers still have from the Trocheck trade with Carolina — gave Florida the lead with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, Trocheck scored in his third straight game against his former team.

Camping in the slot with Nedeljkovic on the bench for an extra attacker, Trocheck one-timed Niederreiter’s feed past Chris Driedger (24 saves) for his team-leading 11th goal to force overtime.

“He’s done it for us all year,” Brind’Amour said of Trocheck scoring big goals. “He’s logging a lot of minutes, plays every situation now. It was a huge acquisition at the time, I think we talked about it, getting a player like that. And, obviously, you’re seeing that now. His play this year has been great.”

3. Carolina again won the special team battle. The Hurricanes scored on their first power play opportunity when Pesce fired home a Jake Bean pass at 13:35 of the first period to give Carolina a 1-0 lead. Bean now has points in five of his last seven games.

The Hurricanes also stalled the Panthers with their penalty kill, keeping Florida off the board in three chances. The Panthers managed five shots on Nedeljkovic in nearly six minutes of power play time. Jaccob Slavin played 4:16 of that.

Number To Know

.609 — Career points percentage for both coaches, Carolina’s Brind’Amour and Florida’s Joel Quenneville, heading into Monday’s game. After the overtime win, Brind’Amour is now 98-60-13 (.611) for his career, while Quenneville dropped to 938-562-77-149 (still .609). They now rank 15th and 16th, respectively, all-time among those with at least 100 NHL games coached.

They Said It

“To be honest, the reason you don’t want to use him is just the ice time. I don’t want him to have to play mega, mega minutes. So if you start throwing power play, penalty kill, and the next thing you know the guy’s never off the ice. So that’s really the only reason you don’t use him.”

— Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on defenseman Brett Pesce’s success on the power play. Pesce has three points, including two on the power play, in the last two games after opening the scoring with a power play goal in the first period.

Plus

Alex Nedeljkovic, Hurricanes goalie — Nedeljkovic continues to gain confidence, and his 44 saves Monday were a career-high and the reason Carolina was even in a position to be in the game. While the Panthers did score twice in the third to tie the game and then take the lead, Florida outshot the Hurricanes 23-5 in the period and things could’ve been much worse.

“That’s one of those where you look back and we’ll say he got us the victory and kept us in the game in the third,” Brind’Amour said.

Nedeljkovic is now 3-2-1 with a .924 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average this season. With Petr Mrazek inching toward returning to the lineup, Brind’Amour will have a tough decision to make between Nedeljkovic and James Reimer for who serves as Carolina’s No. 2 goalie.

“I haven’t even thought about that, to be honest with you,” Brind’Amour said. “But it’s great to see him his last few starts. I think he’s been real sharp.”

Minus

Brock McGinn, Hurricanes forward — There was plenty of collective blame to go around, especially in the third period. McGinn’s red-hot start has dried up (no points in the last five), and he lost a race to the front of the Carolina net with Aleksander Barkov that led to the rebound goal Frank Vatrano scored at 4:40 of the third that tied the game.

Expecting McGinn to maintain the torrid pace he had been on is foolhardy, but the Hurricanes rely on him to check the opposition’s best forwards many nights. Barkov’s a handful, and he got the best of McGinn on that goal.