Necas ends goal drought, scores late winner to lift Hurricanes

Carolina split its season series with the Kraken with a 3-2 win

Hurricanes forward Martin Necas throws the imaginary monkey off his back after snapping an 18-game goal drought with the go-ahead score in Carolina's 3-2 win over Seattle on Sunday. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Martin Necas didn’t just lead the Hurricanes to two points against the visiting Seattle Kraken.

He got the monkey off his back.

Necas scored his first goal since Jan. 15, spinning, falling and shooting the puck under Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 win Sunday in front of 18,156 at PNC Arena.

“I was trying to not count the games I haven’t scored. … The last few games I started feeling a little better, getting more chances,” said Necas, who ended an 18-game drought with the goal. “And today, finally, it went in.”

With the Kraken content to make the game as sloppy as possible, the Hurricanes had to rely on three things: patience, special teams and Antti Raanta.

“We kind of knew what kind of games it was gonna be,” Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen, playing in his 500th career NHL game, said. “They play good, they play hard, and they play defense very well. So there’s not going to be too many good chances.”

That proved true, certainly in the first period. While the shots on goal were in a normal range — 11 for Seattle, nine for Carolina — there were just three high-danger chances in the period.

Enter Raanta, who was starting his second straight game with Frederik Andersen nursing a minor injury.

The 32-year-old was dialed in again for the Hurricanes, making saves through traffic and exploding for a pad save on Seattle’s best chance of the first period to keep the game 0-0.

“Confidence is building when you get good games under yourself,” said Raanta, who has strung together three excellent starts. “It was kind of easy to just go to the game. There were a couple of good shots early on. … I was able to make a couple good saves here and there.”

With no scoring in the first period, both teams got to work on the power play in the middle frame.

The Kraken opened the scoring when, after Raanta (24 saves) made an initial stop, Alex Wennberg’s follow-up attempt hit the Carolina goalie’s pad and fluttered up and into the net for a power play goal at 3:12 of the second period.

The Hurricanes second power play unit responded just under four minutes later by patiently waiting for its chance and converting. Seth Jarvis shot from the left circle, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi tapped the rebound over to Nino Niederreiter for his 17th goal and a 1-1 tie.

“They probably had better opportunities to shoot it sooner,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, “but at the end of the day, we got it there. It was good execution on other things to get to that point.”

Just over a minute later, a Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce’s flubbed dump-in caught the Hurricanes in a line change, and Adam Larsson sprung Calle Jarnkrok for a breakaway he converted to restore Seattle’s one-goal lead.

Carolina’s power play, however, wasn’t done.

The Hurricanes needed just four seconds of the man advantage for Teravainen to score off the faceoff for his 16th goal of the year to tie the game at 17:22 of the second period.

“They said, ‘We’ve got to go hard to the net quick,’” Brind’Amour said. “That’s exactly what happened.”

With the game still tied in the third period, Sebastian Aho went to the penalty box for hooking with just over 12 minutes left in regulation. Carolina killed off the penalty and followed that shift with the winning goal.

Carolina’s lines were jumbled coming out of the penalty kill, and Necas won a board battle in the Seattle end and worked the puck to the point. Pesce knocked down the pass and worked it across to Brady Skjei, whose wrist shot made it through a crowd and was stopped by Grubauer (30 saves).

Necas located the rebound behind him, spun away from Larsson, and shot while falling to the ice to give Carolina its first lead — and for good.

Necas bunny hopped into the arms of Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, then skated toward the bench and tossed the imaginary monkey off his back.

“It was just the feeling of the moment,” a relieved Necas said.

Notes: Former Hurricanes draft picks Morgan Geekie and Haydn Fleury returned to PNC Arena for the first time, though Fleury was a healthy scratch. … Kraken broadcaster John Forslund also called his first game in Raleigh since leaving the organization. … Carolina won 39 of 59 faceoffs. … Nine different Hurricanes had points and 10 had multiple shots on goal. … Jarvis assisted on Niederreiter’s power play goal, giving him points in two straight games for the first time since he totaled three points in games on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1. … Alex Lyon, recalled from AHL Chicago, dressed as the backup.