RALEIGH — For the second time in as many nights, the Hurricanes entered the third period with a one-goal lead. And just like Friday, Carolina allowed the equalizer early in the final frame.
On Saturday, the result was different.
Brendan Smith slap shot from the left point beat Blues goaltender Joel Hofer on the short side with just under three minutes remaining to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win in front of a sellout crowd Saturday at PNC Arena.
“We had a good screen in front, and sometimes they just go in,” Smith said of his first goal with the Hurricanes. “So I’m obviously very excited, and it’s a moment that I’m never gonna forget.”
The game-winning goal came after St. Louis tied the game at 2 just 48 seconds into the final period when Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a rebound.
It could have been deja vu all over again for the Hurricanes, who allowed the equalizer early in the third period on Friday against Philadelphia and lost when the Flyers added another in a 2-1 loss.
“We want to play our best hockey in the third period,” said Sebastian Aho, who had a goal and an assist on the night. “They’re a good team. They made a good push there and scored a goal, but it didn’t matter. We just stick with it.”
That meant on Saturday, it was Carolina who got the go-ahead goal.
After Jordan Martinook took on three St. Louis players and ripped a shot off Hofer’s shoulder, he retrieved the puck behind the net and cycled it around the boards to Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen pushed it to the point to defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who went across the ice to his defense partner for the shot and goal.
“Tony’s got great vision,” Smith said of DeAngelo, who had two assists. “We see that on the power play, and he was able to slow everything down and his passes are so perfect. They’re right on your tape, but it’s how they are. They’re putting you in a position to make a play.”
While Hofer was making his second career start, journeyman Alex Lyon was making his first with the Hurricanes.
Called up from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after Antti Raanta was injured in last Saturday’s loss in Florida, Lyon got the start on the tail end of a back-to-back. He answered with 27 saves for his first win with the Hurricanes and seventh of his career.
“Coming up to the NHL, it’s something that I’ve battled for a long time and just trying to find my way,” Lyon said. “I think I’m good enough to play up here. So in a sense, you try not to put too much pressure on yourself.”
Brind’Amour, who had said ahead of Lyon’s start that he didn’t know what to expect from the mostly unfamiliar goaltender in his first start with the team, came away with a solid first impression on the 28-year-old who had spent the first five years of his professional career in the Flyers organization.
“It was huge,” Brind’Amour said of Lyon’s performance. “He made a lot of big saves, especially on the kill. … It was great to see him perform like that.”
Also unfamiliar was Hofer (21 saves), the lanky second-year pro who had won his debut on Nov. 4 in San Jose.
But after struggling to solve Flyers goalie Carter Hart the night before, it took Carolina only one shot to figure out Hofer.
Aho found a seam through the Blues defense and passed to a crashing Brady Skjei, who wristed a shot — one of eight shot attempts and four on goal for the defenseman — over Hofer’s right shoulder for his first goal of the season.
“He was really good,” Brind’Amour said of Skjei. “He logs a lot of minutes. … That’s hard, heavy minutes.”
The Hurricanes then appeared to go up two just past the first period’s midway point, but for the second straight night, Seth Jarvis had his second career goal called off.
After Jarvis had drawn a penalty, the puck wound up in a scrum near the net on the delayed call. Jarvis banged it in near the right post past Hofer — his former teammate with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks — but the referees conferred and determined St. Louis had gained possession prior to the goal and the play was dead due to the impending penalty.
Carolina didn’t score on that power play, but it did convert on its second chance.
DeAngelo threaded a pass through the Blues penalty kill and Aho one-timed it past Hofer for a 2-0 lead at 3:44 of the second period.
“He’s the quarterback there,” Aho said of DeAngelo. “A lot of the plays go through him. …He’s very good at it, and he’s a great player.”
St. Louis answered with a power play goal of its own when Pavel Buchnevich scored from near the same spot Jarvis had previously been denied a goal, getting his fourth of the year at 12:30 of the middle frame to cut the lead in half.
But despite allowing the tying goal early in the third, the Hurricanes found a way to win and improve to 11-2-0 on the season, thanks in part to Lyon.
“He gave us a chance to win a hockey game, and that’s all you can ask from a goalie,” Aho said.
Notes: It was Justin Faulk’s first game back in PNC Arena since he signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract with the Blues in 2019. The team honored its former co-captain with a tribute on the video board. He finished with a team-high 24:36 of ice time and four hits. … Andrei Svechnikov finished with two assists but also had two minor penalties. … Skjei played 25:06, including a whopping 22:29 at even strength — five minutes more than Jaccob Slavin.