There was plenty that was familiar for the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.
For one, there was Steven Stamkos scoring after a failed Hurricanes power play. Hulking defenseman Victor Hedman was patrolling the Tampa Bay blue line, playing nearly half the game. And there was impenetrable Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopping everything Carolina threw at him.
“He’s elite. We all know that,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Vasilevskiy. “We’ve seen him enough and the league’s seen him enough — his accolades speak for themselves.”
What was missing was the sense of hopelessness that seemed to encompass the Hurricanes late in Tampa Bay’s five-game playoff win against Carolina in the spring.
Also absent? The familiar final result.
Teuvo Teravainen scored on the power play just before the midway point of the third period to tie the game, and the Hurricanes overcame a waved-off overtime winner by Brady Skjei to see Martin Necas similarly score on Vasilevskiy to give Carolina a 2-1 win on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.
“We knew we needed a bounce-back game, and it was just a great team effort all around,” Skjei said.
Despite doubling up the Lightning in shots on goal for much of the game, Carolina trailed 1-0 at the midway point of regulation after Mathieu Joseph set up Stamkos for a shot into an open net to make it 1-0.
The goal came just minutes after the Hurricanes had failed to score on an extended 5-on-3 power play. And it wasn’t a normal two-man advantage.
One of the Lightning’s three skaters, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, was stung by a shot shaken up. Then Vasilevskiy (29 saves) made a skate save that knocked the blade out of his skate and left the Tampa Bay goaltender on his knees trying to get a whistle.
“You don’t see that very often,” Teravainen said of Vasilevskiy being down to one functioning skate. “I didn’t know what’s the rule, if they’re gonna whistle it down or they just keep going. I feel like everybody just tried to create something, do something, and we got a bit confused. I think we got to put that puck in the net for sure.”
Then Stamkos scored, and the ghosts of last year’s playoffs lurked in the shadows as the Hurricanes entered the second intermission down 1-0.
“Roddy came in the locker room and just said just play our game,” Necas said. “Battle for every puck. It doesn’t have to happen in the first shift. It can happen in the last one.”
When Stamkos was called for goaltender interference, Carolina’s power play came back out with a chance to exorcise some demons — both from earlier in the game and last year.
The Hurricanes wheeled the puck around the offensive zone, going from low to high, then across the blue line to Andrei Svechnikov. Svechnikov passed down low to Vincent Trocheck, who zipped the puck across the goal mouth back to Teravainen — who had started the sequence — for his third goal of the season and a tie game at 9:56 of the third.
“It’s always frustrating when you play a pretty good game,” Brind’Amour said. “You’re doing what we asked and getting some good looks. (Vasilevskiy) was making some big saves. So it was just good to keep going, keep sticking with it. And, obviously, we got a big power play goal.”
The teams went to overtime — Carolina’s first game past regulation this season — as both Vasilevskiy and an equally stingy Frederik Andersen (17 saves) kept the game at one goal apiece.
And the Hurricanes’ resilience wasn’t done being tested.
Carolina seemingly won the game when Skjei rushed up the right wing and fired a shot that beat Vasilevskiy for the win.
But the NHL reviewed the play and the goal was waved off due to offside on the Hurricanes’ Trocheck.
“I got the good feeling and then the bad feeling again,” Teravainen said.
The teams lined back up, and it wasn’t long before Carolina ended it for good.
Necas entered the zone with Hedman locked in on him, and the speedy winger snaked his way back and forth, forcing the Tampa Bay defenseman to give him a cushion out of respect for his speed.
Necas found an opening and shot, whistling the puck short side past Vasilevskiy to win it — for real this time.
“I was kind of waiting through the neutral zone,” Necas said. “I was kind of going from side to side … and I think it was Hedman, he gave me a little space. So I tried to kind of cut it back, cut it in the middle and shoot through him, and it worked out.”
The win improved the Hurricanes to 10-1-0 on the season and quickly erased the team’s lopsided 5-2 loss to Florida on Saturday.
More importantly, it showed that Carolina is a team that can come off the mat — even against an opponent with which it has a difficult history.
“To fight back and … feel like you win it, then get, ‘No, you didn’t,’ you know, and have to do it,” Brind’Amour said. “I thought it says a lot about the group. They literally just shook it off — better than I did. They were just like, ‘OK, let’s play a little bit more.’ So it was a real positive game for us.”