Necas overtime goal lifts Carolina Hurricanes past Florida Panthers

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Chip Alexander
·5 min read
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The Carolina Hurricanes did what no other team has been able to do this season: hand the Florida Panthers a second consecutive loss.

The Canes tied the score late in regulation Monday, then topped the Panthers 3-2 on a Martin Necas goal at 1:59 of overtime at BB&T Center. Alex Nedeljkovic, who had a career-high 44 saves in his best NHL start to date, earned the win.

The Canes (14-6-1) survived a five-round shootout to beat the Panthers 4-3 on Saturday, and it was Necas who had the game-deciding goal in the shootout. But Florida (13-4-4) had gone 6-0-0 in games after their losses this season and made another third-period comeback Monday.

Eetu Luostarinen’s goal at 16:51 of the third pushed the Panthers ahead 2-1 when the former Hurricanes draft pick and offensive prospect scored his third goal of the season.

The Canes pulled Nedeljkovic for an extra attacker and Vincent Trocheck scored with 1:33 remaining in regulation with a quick shot from the slot that beat goalie Chris Driedger.

The Canes took a 1-0 lead into the third period, riding a Brett Pesce first-period power-play goal and sparkling saves and stickhandling by Nedeljkovic, who made his sixth start of the season.

The Panthers finally tied it 1-1 at 4:40 of the third when Frank Vatrano jumped on a rebound to score on Florida’s 27th shot of the game.

Second period: Canes keep lead

The second period was highlighted by some quality saves by Nedeljkovic, who robbed Aaron Ekblad of a power-play goal with a slick glove save to keep Carolina in front 1-0 after 40 minutes.

The Panthers had a 4-on-3 play with about four minutes left in the period with Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton taking penalties. Nedeljkovic faced shots from Barkov, Ekblad and Patric Hornqvist during the 4-on-3, and Keith Yandle had shots blocked by Jaccob Slavin and Jordan Staal as the Canes killed off the penalties.

A Canes turnover on a power play earlier in the period created a shorthanded chance for Barkov, forcing the Canes’ Jesper Fast to take a tripping penalty. The Canes killed off the Fast penalty.

First period: Pesce scores for 1-0 lead

Pesce, who piled up some points in February, now has a goal to start March, scoring on a power-play blast to give the Canes a 1-0 lead after the first.

Pesce’s third of the season, at 13:35 of the first, came on a shot from the left circle after Hornqvist was called for roughing Trocheck. Jake Bean and Necas had the assists, and Pesce also was helped by Fast crowding Driedger.

Pesce had two assists in the Canes’ 4-3 shootout win over Florida on Saturday, and his goal Monday gives him 13 points in the first 21 games. Pesce had 18 points in 61 games last season before undergoing shoulder surgery.

The Canes killed off a Steven Lorentz penalty later in the first.

Both teams had 11 shots in a fast-paced first period. Pesce and Aho each had three shots for the Canes.

The Canes had two power-play scores in Saturday’s game, including Bean’s first NHL goal.

Earlier updates ...

Game setup

For the fifth time this season, the Carolina Hurricanes have gone on the road and won the first game of a two-game set against a Central Division opponent.

Now, the hard part: winning the second game.

The Canes, after beating the Florida Panthers 4-3 in a shootout Saturday, face the Panthers again Monday at the BB&T Center. Alex Nedeljkovic will be the Canes’ starting goalie after James Reimer was in net for the shootout win.

The Canes (13-6-1) have won both road-game sets just once this season -- at Dallas on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12 -- and it took a shootout to decide the second game, Nedeljkovic winning that one. Complicating the situation Monday: the Panthers (13-4-3) have yet to lose back-to-back games this season.

Why so tough to win both?

“The parity in the NHL,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Monday morning. “I think any time you’re playing teams it’s just tough to win two in a row any time, but especially against the same team.

“It’s not like there’s a bunch of adjustments. I don’t think it’s that, because we’re all making the same adjustments. I just think it’s the parity in the league that makes it tough.”

The game Saturday had a chippy third period. Will Monday be more of the same?

Injury update

While goalie Petr Mrazek has returned to practice and is closer to getting back in the lineup, forward Teuvo Teravainen continues to recover from a concussion.

Mrazek underwent surgery Feb. 3 for a dislocated right thumb and has missed 15 games. He practiced, with his goalie stick, for the first time Saturday, practiced again Sunday and might play next week during the Canes’ homestand.

“He’s getting closer for sure,” Brind’Amour said Monday. “When he feels ready, he’ll be ready.”

Teravainen, who has missed five games, did not make the trip to Florida. Brind’Amour said he was told Teravainen had been able to do some skating in Raleigh and that “things were getting better,” but Brind’Amour was not sure how close he might be to being cleared for practice and then games.

Defenseman Jake Gardiner is listed with an upper-body injury and will miss his third game.

What’s next

The Canes will hop their charter for a flight to Nashville for a Tuesday night game against the Predators. Carolina then will be home for four straight games, and will play the Detroit Red Wings on March 4 with fans again allowed into PNC Arena as COVID restrictions have been eased in the state.

If forward Evgeny Svechnikov stays in the Red Wings lineup, he will be matched up against his younger brother, Andrei, for the first time in their hockey careers.