TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Jordan Staal redirected a Sebastian Aho shot 5:57 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win in Game 3 of their seven-game series with the Lightning on Thursday at Amalie Arena. Carolina now trails the series 2-1.
Aho also scored a goal of his own, and Brett Pesce got his second goal of the postseason. Petr Mrazek, making his first start of the playoffs, made 35 saves and stopped all 30 shots he faced at even strength to get the win.
1. The Hurricanes are back from the dead. Many had written off Carolina after they dropped the first two games of the series at home and headed into Game 3 without Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck, the team’s second and third leading goal scorers, respectively.
Others forwards picked up the slack.
Aho, reunited with Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov on the SAT line, factored in on all three of Carolina’s goals, including one-timing the shot from the left circle on the power play that hit Staal and ended the game.
“We know that he’s a star,” Pesce said. “He’s a world-class player, and he seems to always come through for us. He’s our best player, and he definitely showed it tonight.”
It was also the first two-point game of the postseason for Teravainen, who played perhaps his best game in a season that has been disjointed by a positive COVID test and then a lingering concussion.
“I thought he was great tonight,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Teravainen. “He’s a guy we count on to do everything. He was solid, and there’s no way around it — we need him to be like that if we want to have a chance.”
Svechnikov quietly got a point in his third straight game and has been on the ice for every Hurricanes’ goal in the series except for Thursday’s game-winner. Aho has also been on the ice for every goal but one, Jake Bean’s power play tally in Game 1.
And then, of course, there’s Staal. The Hurricanes captain became the second player this postseason to score two overtime winners, joining Brad Marchand after the Boston winger won the game for the Bruins earlier in the night on Long Island.
2. The Hurricanes scored first and got their first lead of the series with Pesce’s goal at 5:15 of the second. It seemed to give Carolina a boost knowing they could beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (27 saves), and the Hurricanes added a second just over 2½ minutes later.
Aho factored into both goals, earning an assist on the Pesce goal and then scoring the second on a breakaway thanks to a one-touch pass by Teravainen that caught Nikita Kucherov unprepared. Teravainen then set Aho up in the slot for the one-timer that led to the winning goal.
“It’s just Teravainen,” Aho said of the winning sequence. “I know that he has great vision out there. He can definitely see those plays. I saw a little opening in the high slot, went there and I got a pretty good shot out of it and, obviously, big man at the hoop. That’s what you need there. Traffic at the net. Just happy we got that goal.”
The Lightning power play had a chance of their own at the end of regulation and into overtime. Having erased Carolina’s 2-0 lead with power play goals — the first by Brayden Point, the second by Alex Killorn — on their first two chances of the game, the Lightning got their third and final opportunity with 1:08 left in regulation after Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton was called for tripping.
But Mrazek stood tall and Carolina got the kill when they needed it most. When Kucherov was called for holding the stick at 4:16 of overtime, the Hurricanes made Tampa Bay pay by converting to breathe life into their playoff hopes.
“We were pretty confident,” Aho said of the team’s mindset in the locker room before overtime. “We knew we had to kill the penalty early on and just take over. Eventually, those penalties usually even out, and we were able to score on our power play, which is always huge.”
Kucherov was again the goat, having taken an offensive zone holding the stick penalty that gave Carolina the overtime power play.
3. The Hurricanes lost another forward when Warren Foegele was injured in the second period on an open-ice hit by Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak. Foegele went to the locker room favoring his left shoulder but returned for the start of the third period. He was sandwiched by two Tampa players behind the Lightning net in his second shift of the period, again went to the room and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Brind’Amour didn’t have much of an update after the win.
“I’m not sure how that’s going to shake out,” the coach said. “I don’t know if he got X-rayed. There was something that he did in between periods. He came out and tried it, and it obviously didn’t go so well. We’ll hopefully know more tomorrow.”
Number To Know
30 — Games it took for Teravainen to assist on an Aho goal this season. Teravainen’s neutral zone redirection sprung the Carolina center for a second-period breakaway goal, the first time the Finnish winger has set up his countryman for a goal in 2020-21. Aho had assisted on three of Teravainen’s five goals in the 29 total games the two had played together coming into Thursday’s Game 3. Last season, Teravainen assisted on 18 of Aho’s 38 goals, though he did not have any helpers on Aho’s three goals in eight games last postseason.
They Said It
“We get kicked, we get punched in the face over and over, and tough bounces, and we just stick with it.”
— Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce on Carolina battling through adversity
Petr Mrazek, Hurricanes goalie — Like Teravainen, Mrazek had his season derailed by injuries. When he was ready to return shortly before the playoffs, Alex Nedeljkovic had seized control of the Carolina net. Mrazek got his chance Thursday and did not disappoint.
“He was incredible,” Pesce said. “That says a lot about him. He didn’t start the playoffs because Ned’s been so good. … Proud of Petr and couldn’t be happier for him to kind of just stick with it and kind of wait for his turn. He was huge for us tonight.”
The Lightning weren’t shy about getting in Mrazek’s face, but the Hurricanes goalie was impenetrable at even strength. The two goals the Lightning did score, both on the power play, were ones he had no chance of stopping.
“Did I expect him to be like that?” Brind’Amour mused. “I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest with you, he’d been out for so long. But he’s a battler.”
Despite Carolina’s 2-0 series hole entering the game, Mrazek said the weight of the moment didn’t get to him.
“It’s fun to play, especially in the playoffs,” he said. “Those moments are forever, and right now, especially with a full building, fans and everything, I wouldn’t say pressure. You go there, you’re having fun. You’re trying to do the best you can, win the games and help the team.”
Warren Foegele, Hurricanes forward — What was already a tough night of being overmatched on the ice became even tougher when Foegele went down with an injury. Carolina’s depth had already been tested in this series, and it will be tested further if Foegele is unable to play in Game 4. If he is out and neither Niederreiter nor Trocheck are ready to return, Max McCormick — who participated in Thursday’s morning skate — would likely be the next forward up.