Sebastian Aho opened the game with a goal and ended it with another. Everything in between was a whole lot of Jaccob Slavin.
Aho scored 4:14 into the game and at 4:07 of overtime, and Slavin played more than half the game in the Hurricanes’ 2-1 win Thursday in Calgary.
After Carolina killed off a penalty that carried over into overtime, Aho got the puck from goaltender Frederik Andersen in their own end and sped up the left side, blew by Elias Lindholm and lost the puck, which still got past Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom to give the Hurricanes their third straight win and improved their record to 18-6-1.
“That’s your best player,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Aho. “So we rely on him to do a lot of things, and he we came through for us tonight when, I think, a lot of guys were just having off nights. It was just hard to get anything kind of generated. Sometimes that’s what happens — sometimes the best player’s just got to take over.”
And then there was Slavin, who played a career-high 32:28 and has averaged nearly 28 minutes in four games this month with the defense depleted by both COVID-19 and a flu bug.
“He’s one of the best in the league, for sure,” Aho said of Slavin. “Just every night — I get it, now he probably plays a little bit more than usual with a few guys out. … Just overall, a very, very good player. Huge, huge player for us.”
It was Slavin who set up the first goal of the game, getting a pass from Aho and then taking a shot that Aho redirected past Markstrom (24 saves) to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 at 4:14 of the first.
Andersen (26 saves) then made a flurry of saves in the next minute before defenseman Noah Hanifin drew a penalty shot on Ian Cole just 79 seconds after Carolina had taken the lead. Andersen stopped that too, but the former Hurricanes draft pick wasn’t done.
Just before the midway point of regulation, Hanifin took a pedestrian-looking wrist shot from the left point, but the puck seemed to change direction and got past Andersen’s glove to tie the game at 7:23 of the second period.
From there, the Hurricanes had to do everything they could to get to overtime. Carolina killed off three more penalties, going a perfect 5 for 5 on the night, and swept the puck away from a vacant net three times — once by Teuvo Teravainen, and then by both Slavin and Aho in one sequence — to keep the game tied.
“The guys made some great plays on those that kind of was going through and went in behind me,” Andersen said. “But yeah, that’s awesome. I think I’ll take the help sometimes. Just great plays.”
In a game Brind’Amour called “gross,” the Hurricanes found a way to get two more points.
“It wasn’t fun to be a part of, to be honest with you,” Brind’Amour said of the game. “We dug in. We did.
“We were battling, we just weren’t very sharp.”