RALEIGH — It would have been easy for the Carolina Hurricanes to get down on themselves early in Saturday’s game with the Panthers. In a six-minute stretch in the middle of the first period, Florida opened up a two-goal lead that should have knocked the home team back on their collective heels.
In fact, the Hurricanes came back with a counterpunch their fellow Sun Belt team couldn’t come back from.
Carolina got two quick goals to tie the game in the first, and Dougie Hamilton scored off a pass from Teuvo Teravainen late in the second period for the deciding goal in the Hurricanes’ 4-2 win over the Panthers in front of 18,159 Saturday at PNC Arena.
With Carolina’s top line in Florida end, Hamilton came off the bench and jumped right into the play, coasting into the slot. Teravainen’s pass found him in stride and the defenseman scored his 10th goal of the season at 17:45 of the middle frame to give the Hurricanes their first lead — and the lead for good.
“Just reading and reacting,” Hamilton said of joining the play after a line change. “I think just kind of hoping that the puck would somehow find me, and Turbo has really, really good vision. So he made a great pass to me and I just tried to shoot it.”
While Teravainen helped finish the play, he also started it. His read and takeaway in the defensive zone triggered the rush, allowing the defense to change and Carolina to set up in Florida end.
“That’s the key to the whole thing,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Teravainen’s transition. “The highlight will just show the end zone part, but it was work in the D zone that created the rush opportunity and led to Dougie getting it. So that’s where the goal started.”
The comeback wouldn’t have started, however, without Carolina’s rally from two down in a frantic first period.
After a back and forth opening seven minutes, Florida scored twice in 18 seconds to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
First, defenseman Aaron Ekblad exploited a blown coverage by the Hurricanes and shoveled a backhand past Petr Mrazek (21 saves) to score at 8:36 of the first.
Then on the next shift, Florida’s Brian Boyle beat Ryan Dzingel to the front of net and scored on make it 2-0.
But the Hurricanes, who blew a two-goal lead against the Flyers on Thursday, quickly flipped the script.
A half-minute after the Panthers’ flurry, Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce blasted a point shot past Sergei Bobrovsky (30 saves) to stop the bleeding.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Pesce said when asked if that was the hardest he’d ever shot the puck. “I’m probably going to frame that stick. To be honest, I’m not going to shoot that hard ever again.”
Then at 14:20 of the first, rookie Martin Necas scored his sixth goal of the season when he one-timed a Hamilton pass from the left circle to tie the game.
It was a goal he scored several times last season with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers en route to helping the team win its first Calder Cup.
“That was my first one here, so I hope it’s going to keep going,” Necas said. “I try to practice these shots a lot, so hopefully I’m going to keep it up.”
Was it harder to score it in the NHL?
“That’s no difference. Same puck in the NHL, same stick,” Necas said.
Carolina then locked down the game in the third, outshooting the Panthers 16-7 and adding an empty-net goal by Andrei Svechnikov — that Teravainen got his third assist of the night on — to win their fifth game in the last six.
It was an effort Brind’Amour said he’d take any night — and likely hopes to get Sunday in Detroit on the second half of a back to back against Atlantic Division opponents.
“It’s about as good a game as you’re going to get,” Brind’Amour said. “That was one of the best teams in the league, and we didn’t give them much.”
Notes: Svechnikov now has 10 multipoint games on the season. He also has a seven-game point streak. … Joel Edmundson earned an assist on Pesce’s goal, extending his point store to six games. … Teravainen has 14 points through 11 games in November and has a point in all but two games this month.