“I think I’m more relieved that the games are just over, to be honest.”
Brett Pesce and the Hurricanes got a taste of what the rest of the season and its condensed schedule will be like, finishing off the second half of back-to-backs matinees and the third game in four days with a 4-3 overtime win in Philadelphia.
It was Pesce — playing the final seconds of the 55:33 he logged over the two-day trek through Pennsylvania — who finished off the three wins in three games, knocking down a Vincent Trocheck pass and scoring over Martin Jones’ glove with just 18 seconds left in overtime.
The Hurricanes celebrated — and then looked ready to collapse.
“I ask a lot of these guys, and they give it every night,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “And tonight we just didn’t have it. You could tell. So the fact that they still found a way … it says a lot about those guys.”
The numbers after the first period confirmed Brind’Amour’s claim. Carolina was outshot 11-2 in the first period after taking nearly 11 minutes to record their first shot on goal, but they escaped the opening 20 minutes tied at 0-0.
It was back and forth from there, with the teams trading goals deep into the third period. The weary Hurricanes, down to five defensemen for the second straight night after Tony DeAngelo left the game with an upper-body injury, would push ahead only to see the Flyers respond.
After former Hurricanes forward Patrick Brown tied the game 2-2 at 5:19 of the third, Carolina responded nearly two minutes later. Hurricanes defenseman Ethan Bear passed across to partner Ian Cole, and Cole —celebrating his 33rd birthday — got a shot on net that rebounded to Trocheck for a backhand goal at 7:15.
Trocheck, who was questionable to come on the trip after being hurt against Nashville on Friday, was another player who powered through to get Carolina’s record to 35-11-4.
“There’s a lot of guys that kind of just drag us into this game and find a way to get it done,” Brind’Amour said when asked about Trocheck’s gutsy efforts.
The Flyers, as they had done all night, tied the game again when Oskar Lindblom scored in front on a rebound with just under five minutes remaining.
That set up overtime, and Carolina maintained possession until Flyers captain Claude Giroux seemingly tripped Trocheck and came in alone on Frederik Andersen. But the Carolina goalie, who made 38 saves, blockered away Giroux’s bid and then made several big stops to keep the door open for Pesce’s game-winner.
“Surprised? No,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Andersen’s play. “But thankful? Absolutely. It’s nice to have him back there.”
On a night when none of the Hurricanes outside of Andersen seemed to have their “A” game, Carolina got enough out of each player to bank two more points.
In the second period, it was Jordan Staal’s line again setting the tone.
After scoring nine seconds into both the second and third periods on Sunday in Pittsburgh, the line took 24 seconds to open the scoring at the start of the middle frame.
A dump-in on the opening shift of the second period took a funny bounce off the boards and popped in front of Jones (27 saves). Nino Niederreiter banged it in for his 15th goal of the season to give Carolina a 1-0 lead.
“We know we have to kind of lead the way when we get the first shift and got to set the tone as much as we can, and it’s been working the last couple games,” Niederreiter said of his line with Staal and Jesper Fast. “I think that’s something which we try to do. We are all veterans on our line, and we’ve got to make sure we try to put the team in the right direction.”
Philadelphia’s Gerry Mayhew got his third goal in two games when his shot hit Sebastian Aho’s stick and went in the Carolina net just 35 seconds after the Hurricanes had opened the scoring.
Carolina see-sawed back into the lead just past the game’s midway point when Andrei Svechnikov circled the net and backhanded a pass to Teuvo Teravainen, whose shot hit Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler and deflected past Jones.
In all, 10 different Hurricanes finished with a point, and none had more than that.
“We didn’t play as good as we wanted to, but we got the win and that’s what matters,” Niederreiter said.
Notes: Slavin played 29:01, the seventh game in his career in which he’s eclipsed 29 minutes. … DeAngelo played just 6:48 before leaving with what appeared to be a hand injury. Fellow defenseman Brendan Smith did not play being hit with a shot in the head while backing a shot in Pittsburgh. … Martin Necas was called for two minor penalties, just the second time in his career he’s had four PIMs in a game (Dec. 14, 2019, in Calgary). … Cole fought Zack MacEwan in the third period, his first fight in more than three years. The last was Feb. 7, 2019, against Washington’s Tom Wilson when he was with Colorado.