Necas plays OT hero again in Hurricanes’ 3-2 win over Sabres

Carolina improved to 8-5-0 on the season

Hurricanes right wing Martin Necas celebrates his ovetime goal as Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen skates past during Carolina's 3-2 win Tuesday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Sabres came back from two one-goal deficits, but the Hurricanes remained hot in overtime, getting a goal from — who else? — Martin Necas to win 3-2 on Tuesday at PNC Arena.

Defensemen Tony DeAngelo and Brady Skjei also scored for Carolina, while Alex Tuch and Rasmus Dahlin had Buffalo’s two goals.

The win moved Carolina to 8-5-0 with 16 points on the season, good for third in the Metropolitan Division based on points percentage.

Three observations

1. It’s overtime, which means it’s Necas time. The Carolina winger did what he always seems to do at 3-on-3, finishing off a pass from Sebastian Aho for his second overtime winner of the season and ninth since the start of the 2020-21 season. Only Alex DeBrincat, also with nine, has as many.

Carolina kept the Buffalo trio of Tuch, Casey Mittlestadt and Owen Power on the ice for the entire 90 seconds of overtime, circling the offensive zone and wearing down the Sabres until Necas caught Power napping and cut behind him to redirect Aho’s pass past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (24 saves).

“We got the puck and they were tired out there,” Necas said. “Every time you see that, I feel like you don’t want to shoot the puck. You just want to create more and more until they’re really tired and something backdoor opens up, just like the goal happened.”

2. The Hurricanes’ power play continues to click, but more importantly, Carolina’s penalty kill is back to its old self. Jordan Staal was called for two first period penalties — the first time that’s happened to him since April 11, 2010 — but the Hurricanes killed both. That included a show-stopping save by Antti Raanta on Peyton Krebs, who is still looking for his goal of the season.

On their first power play chance, the Hurricanes scored on a DeAngelo wrist shot, giving them the early special teams advantage. Then with Jordan Martinook in the box for tripping at 16:12 of the third, Carolina easily snuffed out the Buffalo power play to help force overtime.

“I thought that was really the difference in the game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Those were really crucial moments, especially at the end.”

The Hurricanes went 3 for 4 on the penalty kill and 1 for 4 on the power play. That looks like a wash, but Carolina earned the special teams W on Tuesday.

3. In the Hurricanes’ first game since announcing that goalie Frederik Andersen would be out an indeterminate amount of time with a “blood clotting issue, Raanta (20 saves) made his case for the No. 1 job.

The 34-year-old isn’t going to play 55 games this season — that’s where Pyotr Kochetkov and perhaps Jaroslav Halak will come in — but knowing he can be a difference-maker after he began the season with a few rough appearances is big for Carolina.

Raanta made several key stops through the night, and he even ventured out of his crease to break up a high flip and was then forced to make a desperate dive to deflect a shot after the Sabres maintained possession after his initial effort.

“I felt (my) movement was good, tracking the puck and, obviously, a couple of diving saves,” Raanta said. “That’s not every day, hopefully. But sometimes you have to entertain the crowd also and get them going. And they were buzzing, so mission accomplished there.”

Number to know

3 — Former first overall picks on the Sabres’ blue line. Power (2021), Dahlin (2018) and Erik Johnson (2006) made up half of Buffalo’s defense on Tuesday.


Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes center — Aho made the key passes on Carolina’s final two goals, making the extra pass after a slap pass from Dmitry Orlov that set up Skjei for the goal that made it 2-1 at 7:54 of the third period and then setting up Necas’ game-winner. Aho now has 10 points in 10 games this season.


Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes forward — After the Hurricanes had taken the lead just under 8 minutes into the third period, Svechnikov took an unnecessary boarding penalty on the next shift. That led to Dahlin weaving through the Carolina penalty kill and beating Raanta to knot the game at 2-2 just before the midway point of the third.

They said it

“I like it. What am I going to say?”

— Hurricanes forward Martin Necas on his success during 3-on-3 overtime.