With each and every game, the Carolina Hurricanes are inching closer and closer to their first playoff appearance since 2009. As the Hurricanes move up the Eastern Conference standings, the team continues to surpass formidable opponents such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In their most recent victory, the Hurricanes managed to edge the Florida Panthers in overtime by a final score of 4-3 on Saturday night. This marks the team’s fifth straight win and eighth victory in their last 10 games.
The scoring opened up just a minute and 26 seconds into the game. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle lost the puck right in front of his goal. Hurricanes left-winger Brock McGinn was Johnny on the spot and popped home the loose change to give his team the 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes would add-on another tally just 39 seconds later. Forward Lucas Wallmark dished a pass while spinning around to teammate Greg McKegg who was parked in the low slot area. The 26-year-old then fired the puck blocker side on Panthers goaltender Sam Montembeault.
However, the Panthers would respond merely minutes later. Forward Henrik Borgstrom released an absolute canon of a wrist shot top shelf on Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek to put the Panthers within one. The goal came just over five minutes into the contest.
Not long after, more scoring would come from the Panthers’ offense. After Borgstrom cleanly won the faceoff, the puck eventually made its way to the point where defenseman Mark Pysyk fired a shot through everybody and past Mrazek to tie the game 2-2. The tally came with just over eight minutes left in the first period.
With zero pucks hitting twine in the second stanza, the third and final frame was kicked off with Borgstrom notching his second goal of the night. McGinn made a nifty no look backhand pass from behind the net to Borgstrom who was waiting right in front of Mrazek. The 21-year-old then launched the puck high glove side to give his team their first lead of the contest with a little less than 14 and a half minutes left in the game.
However, the Hurricanes would quickly respond to tie the game up at three goals a piece. Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal stripped the puck from Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck in the neutral zone. After Staal’s shot was blocked, the puck ended up on the stick of defenseman Brett Pesce who then fired a backhanded shot over the shoulder of Mrazek. The goal came just over eight minutes into the third period.
With 60 minutes not enough time to decide a winner, overtime was needed. After Mrazek made back-to-back breakaway saves on both defenseman Mike Matheson and left-winger Jonathan Huberdeau within a span of 10 seconds. Forward Sebastian Aho emerged as the hero for the Hurricanes as he buried the puck past Montembeault on a two-on-one opportunity with teammate Nino Niederreiter. The overtime tally gave the former 2015 second-round pick goal number 27 of the season.
With the win, the Hurricanes now have 78 points and a record of 36-23-6. The victory also allows the Hurricanes to jump over the Penguins and take control of third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes’ next game will be on the road against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday evening as the team will try to push for their sixth straight win.