Necas scores again in OT, Raanta earns 18th win

Carolina won its third straight

Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta stops a shot by Senators center Patrick Brown during Carolina's 3-2 overtime win Tuesday in Raleigh. (Chris Seward / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — When Martin Necas has the puck on his stick in overtime, the Hurricanes usually win. When Antti Raanta plays, the Hurricanes can’t lose.

The 33-year-old goalie made 25 saves to extend his streak of games with a point in the standings to 18, and Necas’ league-leading fourth overtime goal of the season gave Carolina a 3-2 win over the visiting Senators in front of a sellout crowd Tuesday at PNC Arena.

“I’ve seen that a couple of times this year when (Necas) gets the puck in OT and good things happen,” said Raanta, who improved to 18-2-3 on the season. “So obviously I was hoping that he would score, and then when you when you saw that puck go in … you take the two points and run out from the ice and you celebrate it.”

Necas’ latest 3-on-3 heroics came in a similar way to how he’s scored previously in overtime.

Seth Jarvis carried the puck from the Carolina end and backed off two Senators, then curled and waited for a charging Necas. Necas got the puck with a head of steam and ripped a shot off the bar and in for his 28th goal of the year, ending an eight-game drought.

“Once he entered the zone he went one against two, I knew he was gonna wait for me, delay the play, and he made a great drop pass,” Necas said. “I just had to hit the net, and it went in.”

The win gave the Hurricanes two more points in the standings, keeping them three ahead of the Devils. New Jersey has four games remaining in the regular season, while Carolina has five.

“The thing about our team,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, “even when we’re not playing our best sometimes, we seem to find a way. And that’s what happened tonight.”

The Senators clawed their way back into the game after falling behind by two goals in the first period.

Ottawa halved Carolina’s lead just past the midway point of regulation when Ridley Greig deflected a centering pass to Claude Giroux on the back door for a tap in to make it 2-1 at 10:39 of the second period.

After Carolina failed to score on 110 seconds of 5-on-3 time that carried over to the third period, Ottawa made good on their first power play of the third period.

The Senators’ puck movement got the Hurricanes’ penalty killers scrambling, and Alex DeBrincat set up Brady Tkachuk for an easy finish at the far post to even the score at 2:52 of the third.

“We had a couple of looks, it wasn’t terrible,” Brind’Amour said of the 5-on-3 “But you’d like to see that go in. It would have definitely, I think, taken the stress out of the game a little bit.”

Fortunately for the Hurricanes, they built an early lead after needing less than two minutes to score on Ottawa goalie Leevi Merilainen (34 saves) in his NHL debut.

The Hurricanes gained possession in the Senators’ zone, and Stefan Noesen worked the puck back to Brady Skjei. Skjei’s point shot was redirected in the high slot by Jesperi Kotkaniemi for his 16th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead at 1:50 of the opening period.

After former Hurricanes forward Patrick Brown was called for a double-minor after high-sticking Shayne Gostisbehere, Carolina’s power play extended the lead.

Kotkaniemi got enough stick on a loose puck to push it back to Skjei, who moved between the tops of the circles and wristed a shot past Merilainen for a 2-0 lead at 15:58 of the first period.

Ottawa’s challenge that the puck had been previously played with a high stick was denied, and the goal was upheld, giving Skjei his 18th of the season. That tied Dougie Hamilton (2018-19) for the most goals by a Carolina defenseman since relocation to North Carolina.

“I guess when you’re feeling good and confident with your shot, things just happen to go in, even when you’re not shooting to the spot you’re trying to go to,” Skjei said.

Ottawa was playing for pride as its playoff hopes were razor-thin entering the game, but the young Senators battled back, led by their top line of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson.

Brind’Amour reunited his shutdown line by putting Jordan Martinook back with Jordan Staal and Jesper Fast in the third period, and Ottawa’s attack was slowed.

“I think the second half of the third, we kind of got some shifts that look kind of like we knew what we were doing,” Brind’Amour said.”

That allowed Carolina to force overtime — where Necas shines brightest.

“His skill set is uniquely crafted for open ice because he’s got a lot of speed ad he’s got a good shot,” Brind’Amour said. “So I think you give him a little room and he can wind it up, it just kind of helps. … He’s got a flair for the dramatic, that’s for sure.”

Notes: Necas, Kotkaniemi and Skjei all finished with two points. … Giroux’s goal was his 30th of the season, the second time in his career he’s reached that mark. … Jalen Chatfield was the only Hurricanes player to not record a shot on goal. … Noesen now has 23 assists on the season, matching the total he had in 203 career games entering this year.