RALEIGH — There were 10,000 fewer fans at PNC Arena for Tuesday’s Carolina Hurricanes game than Saturday’s season-opening sellout against the Wild. That’s probably a good thing, because the first 58 minutes of Columbus’ 2-1 overtime win Tuesday wasn’t going to win any “grow the game” or style awards.
After 50 minutes and a second of scoreless play, Blue Jackets rookie Sonny Milano scored the kind of goal one figured might make the difference. From behind the Carolina net, Milano bounced the puck off Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling’s pad and it rattled in for this third consecutive game with a goal to start the season.
Then with 85 seconds remaining, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner answered.
Skinner, with Darling pulled for the extra attacker, leaped and nabbed a Marcus Hannikainen clearing attempt out of the air with his glove, dropped it and beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky — the first time in nearly two full games someone scored on the reigning Vezina Trophy winner — to tie the game in front of just 7,892 fans.
Milano would get the last laugh, scoring on a breakaway in overtime for this fourth goal of the year, but Carolina (1-0-1) stole a point on a night when neither team did much offensively.
“It’s been a little tough to sort of find a rhythm offensively … and I think for us sort of as a whole tonight,” Skinner said. “But yeah, it’s always nice to get the first one out of the way.”
It was the second time in as many games this season Carolina got a huge goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Victor Rask scored a go-ahead goal late against the Wild, only to see Minnesota send it to overtime with 0.3 seconds remaining.
“It’s a resilient group. … A work in progress, obviously,” coach Bill Peters said after the game.
The Hurricanes had chances to win it in overtime. Sixty-one seconds in, captain Jordan Staal drew a hooking penalty on Artemi Panarin, but the Hurricanes power play (0-3 on the night) faltered.
“I don’t think think the puck’s been moving as quick as we like or getting the Grade-A chances that you want on a power play,” Staal said. “So there’s definitely improvement to be had there. We need a little more killer instinct as well. When the opportunity’s there and we know that it’s a big one, we’ve got to find a way.”
Columbus (2-1) and Carolina slogged through two periods without scoring, exchanging feeble power play attempts and failing to create any sign of momentum for either side.
Shots favored Columbus 11-10 after one period, but the only Grade-A chance came when Milano slid a cross-ice pass to Hannikainen for a one-timer that Darling (25 saves) snatched with his glove.
The second offered more of the same: each team had a chance with the man advantage, neither converted.
The Milano goal then shifted Carolina into desperation mode against Bobrovsky, who started the season with 118 minutes of shutout hockey before Skinner’s tally.
The Hurricanes’ overtime man advantage created little, but Sebastian Aho did have a chance after to end it on a 3-on-1 rush. His one-timer off a Teuvo Tervainen pass sailed wide, however, springing Milano for the breakaway he finished with a backhand similar to the one Jaccob Slavin used on the shootout winner Saturday.
“We shoot one wide they go on an odd man, they shoot one wide we get a breakaway,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We score, they don’t.”
Notes: Columbus captain Nick Foligno took a two-minute boarding penalty in the first period on a bad hit on Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce. Pesce went to the Hurricanes locker room briefly but returned shortly after. … The Hurricanes had a massive edge in faceoffs, winning 40 of 66. … Carolina outshot Columbus 38-27, and Columbus went 13:59 between its last shot in regulation, with 9:30 left, to the OT game-winner with 31 ticks remaining. … Skinner had a game-high five shots on goal. … Justin Williams had zero shot attempts in 17:14 of ice time.