RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes wanted to win, but the Boston Bruins needed to win.
With 37 seconds remaining in overtime, rookie David Pastrnak scored and gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of 14,725 in attendance at PNC Arena on Sunday.
As is always the case in extra time, a loss comes so suddenly that its immediate impact wipes out everything that came before it – at least for a moment anyway.
For Carolina, another solid effort showed the work that the players, along with head coach Bill Peters and his staff, were putting in to finish as well and respectably as possible as the season nears an end.
For the Bruins, who hung onto the eighth and final wildcard spot coming in, a loss to Carolina would have been detrimental.
They provided the Hurricanes a hungry and driven opponent to play against.
“We knew they were fightin’ for playoffs, fightin’ for their lives,” Nathan Gerbe said.
“Almost every team we play now, those that are out there, are pushin’. So, we turned it up. Otherwise, it would be an ugly game if we didn’t turn it up.”
Gerbe did just that and scored the lone goal for the Hurricanes, while goaltender Anton Khudobin made 28 saves in the loss.
In addition to Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner scored the Bruins’ first goal of the game early in the first period.
Boston netminder Tuukka Rask earned his 31st win of the season, and made 29 saves while doing so.
Both teams showed energy and grit throughout the game, offering up a combined 61 shots on goal that kept both goalies busy while dishing out 82 total hits to keep each other honest throughout.
Led by Spooner’s seventh goal of the season at 2:21, the Bruins led 1-0 after the first period of play, even as the Hurricanes outshot Boston 10-8.
Gerbe scored his eighth of the season with 22 seconds remaining in the second and evened the score at one apiece.
Heading in a 2-on-1 with Chris Terry, Gerbe waited as Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid split the two, and when the pass came to him, the compact Carolina forward made no mistake in roofing it over Rask’s shoulder and under the cross bar.
It was apparent that the goaltender expected the puck to go back to Terry, but it didn’t.
“He’s a little guy, but he plays with an edge,” Terry said.
“He gets in on the forecheck, gets pucks back, and he can finish around the net like we saw tonight.”
Rookie defenseman Danny Biega also earned an assist on the play.
While Boston put in a more effort to put more pucks on Khuddobin during the period, both teams remained tied.
Carolina’s best chance to take the lead came with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third when Jeff Skinner hit the post after receiving a gift of a pass from Elias Lindholm.
The game almost didn’t make it to overtime when Ron Hainsey was called for throwing his stick at the puck with 1:43 remaining.
After letting a slap shot go from the point, the Carolina defenseman broke his stick and with the remaining part of the shaft in his hand, threw it away in the direction of an eventual breakout pass from the Bruins.
Khudobin came to the Hurricanes’ rescue as he made two saves on the Bruins power play early on.
Carolina killed the remaining portion of Hainsey’s penalty as regulation time ended, and both teams headed to overtime.
With 17 seconds more penalty time to kill in the extra period, the Hurricanes did so successfully while not allowing Boston to get a shot on goal.
Both teams finished 0-for-3 on the power play.
Overtime continued and it was Jordan Staal, who played in his 600th NHL game, who came close to ending the deadlock after the first minute.
While throwing a shot on Rask in order to buy time to make a change, the Boston netminder let it dribble through his crease close to the goal line before being cleared away by his defenseman.
Carolina controlled much of the play during the first three minutes of overtime, outchancing the Bruins and challenging Rask, who made the stops needed to keep the Bruins alive.
It eventually worked out to the Boston’s favor.
Carl Soderberg controlled the puck in the corner before dropping a pass into the slot where Pastrnak trailed and was wide open to wind up and unleash the game-winning shot that beat Khudobin low and between his pads.
“It always hurts and you always want to get those extra points,” Gerbe said.
“You always want to help Dobby a bit more. He played a heck of game for us.”