RALEIGH — Michael Eyssimont has played just 29 career NHL games, but his two against the Carolina Hurricanes have included enough high-end drama for him to write a book.
Just over three months after Eyssimont, then a member of the Jets, saw the Hurricanes score three 6-on-5 goals to force overtime and earn an improbable point in Winnipeg on the night he scored his first career NHL goal, he witnessed Carolina finish the job on perhaps an even more stunning comeback Friday.
Eyssimont again scored, this time for San Jose, for his second career goal, but the Hurricanes overcame an empty-net goal by the Sharks to score twice in the final 97 seconds to force overtime before winning it at 3-on-3 for a miraculous 5-4 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd at PNC Arena.
“The people that left, hopefully they didn’t get out of the building,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I saw a mass exodus there, and then all of a sudden, it’s a great finish.”
Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas both scored two goals, with Necas’ pair coming with 12 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and 55 seconds into overtime to give him his second game-winning OT goal in as many games.
“We got a couple goals and you could feel it coming for us,” Necas said of the momentum carried into overtime.
The win was Carolina’s fourth straight and extended the team’s point streak to seven games — the shootout loss Jan. 15 against Vancouver the only blemish in a 6-0-1 stretch.
The Hurricanes could be forgiven for overlooking San Jose — in the bottom five of the NHL — after having beaten Central Division leader Dallas on Wednesday and with Boston coming to Raleigh on Sunday for a showdown of the NHL’s two top teams.
For two periods, it looked like the Hurricanes were going through the motions against the bottom-feeding Sharks, entering the final 20 minutes of regulation in a 1-1 tie.
“It’s human nature,” Brind’Amour said. “You looked at the standings for a second, you know, and you think … it’s not that you’re disrespecting anything, it’s just the way it goes. And you know you’ve got the best team coming in another day here. So I don’t know if that’s why we were a little flat.”
Aho’s first goal of the night, a power play tally that came when Stefan Noesen centered a pass that Aho reached for and redirected past James Reimer (31 saves) just 17 seconds into the third period, looked eerily similar to a scoring chance Aho set up for Andrei Svechnikov at the end of the second period.
Brind’Amour, when asked if they saw something in the Sharks’ defenses to exploit, just grinned and uttered a “maybe.”
But a goal that looked like a death punch instead was countered by San Jose, which got goals from Nick Bonino and Eyssimont to take a one-goal lead into the final minutes.
Then with Antti Raanta (26 saves) on the bench for an extra attacker, Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro scored on a length-of-the-ice empty-netter to seemingly seal the win for San Jose with 1:37 left in regulation.
“It’s like, ‘OK, this is one of those nights where it’s not going to happen for us,” Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes, however, got off the mat as they did in Winnipeg earlier this year, this time with Aho providing the spark and Necas again igniting the fire.
Just 15 seconds after San Jose built a 4-2 lead, Aho got his 20th goal of the season, generating speed through the neutral zone and accepting a pass from Teuvo Teravainen as he blew past the Sharks defenders to score before Raanta even had time to get to the bench again. It was Aho’s seventh goal in the last five games.
“Especially in the third, he just he was dynamic and just a difference-maker,” Brind’Amour said of Aho.
Then it was time for Necas — who had scored the third and final 6-on-5 goal in Winnipeg on Nov. 21 to force overtime in a 4-3 loss — to again get Carolina to 3-on-3.
With 18.1 seconds remaining, Jordan Staal won a faceoff that got back to Brent Burns for a one-timer that ricocheted wide. Svechnikov whipped a bad-angle shot at the net that hit Reimer and caromed right to Necas, who snapped the shot past the Sharks goalie with 11 seconds left to tie the game.
“You’ve got to keep going, and our guys do,” Brind’Amour added, “and that’s what happened tonight.”
Necas then offered up his second flashback performance of the night, this one harkening back to just two days earlier.
After Sharks captain Logan Couture’s shot in overtime was brushed away by Raanta, Svechnikov won a board battle and shrugged off Eyssimont near the Carolina blue line to create a 2-on-1. Svechnikov saucered a pass over the stick of San Jose defenseman Matt Benning that Necas collected and roofed over a sliding Reimer for his second overtime winner in as many games.
“Just like they say, good teams find a way,” Necas said. “And we did somehow today.”
Notes: Steven Lorentz, playing his first game at PNC Arena since being traded to San Jose in the offseason, and Evgeny Svechnikov, Andrei’s older brother, picked up assists on the Sharks’ first goal by Oskar Lindblom. … Carolina defenseman Calvin de Haan got his second goal of the season and first regular season goal in 67 games at PNC Arena with a second period score. His only other goal at PNC came May 14, 2019, in the Hurricanes’ 2-1 Game 3 loss to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. … Aho had a game-high nine shots on goal, matching the career high he had on May 3, 2021, when he scored a hat trick against Chicago. … Defenseman Jalen Chatfield, playing in the top four alongside Brent Burns with Jaccob Slavin out of the lineup, had an assist on Aho’s second goal, giving him six points (three goals, three assists) in his last six games.