RALEIGH — For more than 35 minutes, the Hurricanes couldn’t solve unfamiliar goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Even when Carolina seemingly had an empty net at which to shoot, the puck seemed to find a way to stay out.
It took a familiar face — and a lucky bounce — to finally solve the Arizona goalie.
Martin Necas’ shot from the blue line hit Coyotes forward Christian Fisher and fluttered past Vejmelka — Necas’ countryman and former teammate in the Czech league — to tie the game late in the second period.
“When they were cleaning the ice, I was telling him he’s gotta let me score one,” said Necas, whose goal was his first of the season.
Necas then assisted on Brett Pesce’s winning goal on the power play with 2:27 left in the game to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 win and keep them perfect on the season in front of 14,343 in a Halloween matinee at PNC Arena.
After Necas tied it with just over three minutes left in the second, Carolina ramped up the pressure, outshooting the winless Coyotes 12-3 in the third period.
Vejmelka, making his seventh career start in his first NHL season, continued to make stops until the Hurricanes’ power play finally broke through in their fifth attempt against the NHL’s worst penalty kill.
Seth Jarvis, playing his first career NHL game, worked the puck to Pesce in the middle from the right flank. Pesce then passed to Necas, who gave the puck right back to the Carolina defenseman for a one-timer that made it through two layers of screens and found the back of the net to put the Hurricanes ahead for the first time — and for good.
“You gotta have it. It won the game tonight,” Coach Rod Brind’Amour said of his team having two effective power play units. “So many nights it comes down to special teams. The perfect example is tonight.”
The goal also gave Jarvis his first career point in his debut. He played 3:32 on the power play and 10:01 total.
“It’s nice to be trusted,” Jarvis said of getting the power play time. “Everybody’s trusted me to go out there and make a play happen, and we scored a big goal.”
Brind’Amour also had to trust his team would continue to work on an afternoon in which nothing seemed to go its way for most of the first two periods.
“The key was not giving up another one,” Brind’Amour said. “I thought as long as we were within one that we’d be in good shape. … There’s no panic, and I think that showed tonight.”
The Hurricanes, playing for the third time in four days, got behind early.
After Ethan Bear fanned on a clearing attempt, Arizona kept the puck in the Carolina zone and capitalized. Christian Fisher got a step on Jordan Martinook in the corner and drove to the net, sliding a shot past Frederik Andersen (22 saves) to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead 5:44 into the game.
“We gave them the first one,” Brind’Amour said. “The puck was on our stick twice, really no pressure, and all of a sudden it turns into kind of a long shift and in the back of your net.”
Despite the deficit — just the second time this season Carolina has trailed at the end of a period — the Hurricanes kept up the pressure. NaturalStatTrick.com had the scoring chances for the game at 20-8 for Carolina, and the ice was heavily tilted toward the Coyotes net while the Hurricanes tried to solve Vejmelka.
“I think the biggest thing for us was just sticking with our game plan, not getting frustrated,” Pesce said. “(Vejmelka) did a heck of a job. Just doing it right over and over and continuing to wear them down minute by minute.”
And once they did, it felt inevitable the Hurricanes would finish the job.
“We’re oozing confidence, right?” Pesce said. “We believe that we could win every game we’re in. So I think that’s a big factor.”
Notes: Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho both saw their point streaks snapped at seven games. … Nine different Hurricanes had at least three shots on goal, including four each for Pesce and Necas. … Arizona’s Dmitrij Jaskin finished with eight hits and four blocked shots, including one in the Coyotes crease in the second period that would have been Jarvis’ first NHL goal. … Andersen improved to 7-0-0 on the season had has a .956 save percentage and 1.29 goals-against average.