RALEIGH — For more than 56 minutes, Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney looked like he would be putting a cherry on top of his recent ascension to No. 1 goalie.
But with Carolina holding on with the only goal in the contest. Anaheim’s Pontus Aberg batted a floating puck into the Hurricanes net to tie the game. Then, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf finished a breakaway in overtime to give the visiting team a 2-1 win Friday in front of 13,987 at PNC Arena.
“They got a lucky goal to tie it up, and that’s really what that was. And then their skill player took over at the end,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after his team moved to 12-9-4 on the season.
It was a bit of an old-school goalie duel, with one of the early Vezina frontrunners, Ducks goalie John Gibson, making several highlight-reel saves to keep his team close while McElhinney looked for his first shutout with his latest team.
The only one Carolina did get by Gibson came with 1:03 left in the first period and the teams at 4-on-4. Andrei Svechnikov got his sixth goal of the season when he ripped a wrist shot past the previously impenetrable Gibson for Carolina’s lone goal on its 19th shot and a 1-0 lead.
The teams then played for more than 37 minutes without scoring until the Ducks finally got on the board with 3:50 left on a freak play.
A wrap chance by the Ducks’ Adam Henrique bounced off Carolina defenseman Calvin de Haan and into the air in front of McElhinney, and Aberg baseball batted it off the Carolina goalie’s shoulder and in to knot the game up in the final minutes of regulation.
Then a blown coverage by Svechnikov in overtime left Getzlaf alone for a breakaway, and he lifted the puck over McElhinney’s goal for the win.
“At the end there, this is the learning curve,” Brind’Amour said of Svechnikov in overtime. “He kind of comes off of his guy and then we have a mess-up and that’s in our net. But he’ll learn. He’ll learn. But you’ve got to keep being positive, because he’s getting better and better.”
McElhinney, less than two months from being claimed off waivers from Toronto, made 27 stops and is now 7-2-1 since joining the Hurricanes.
“It’s kind of one of those nights, I think, we look back on and maybe missed opportunities just to put a team away more than anything,” McElhinney said. “You’re up 1-0, you’ve played a pretty solid game, and I think we had some good chances to put them away, and we just couldn’t find that next one, unfortunately.”
McElhinney and the Hurricanes penalty kill again performed well, particularly on a third period penalty to Jaccob Slavin — arguably the team’s most important penalty killer — that kept Carolina ahead.
“Obviously they’re disrupting a lot of stuff right now and getting some key blocks,” McElhinney said. “We had a big guy in the box there to kill off, so it was another good job in front of me.”
Carolina got six power play opportunities of their own, but they were unable to dent Gibson.
“He played great tonight, made a lot of huge save and gave them an opportunity to win,” McElhinney said of Gibson. “The team picked up the W for him late in the game. So hey, credit to him tonight.”
Notes: Scott Darling cleared waivers earlier in the day and was assigned to AHL Charlotte. He lost his second start of the year with the Checkers, allowing the go-ahead goal on the power play in the last five minutes of a 2-1 loss in Providence. … Forward Valentin Zykov was claimed off waivers by Edmonton. … Defensemen Brett Pesce and Haydn Fleury, along with forward Micheal Ferland, missed the game with injuries. … Jake Bean played in his second NHL game, logging 8:48. … Carolina outshot Anaheim 21-6 in the first, but allowed 23 shots to the Ducks’ 13 the rest of the way.