RALEIGH, N.C. – It was as even a matchup as you could have had when the Carolina Hurricanes and the Philadelphia Flyers faced off against one another for the first time this season at PNC Arena on Saturday.
In the end, a 3-2 overtime score in the Flyers’ favor, the result of a Jakub Voracek redirect past Hurricanes goalkeeper Cam Ward made sense and fell within the numbers.
It was a battle to gain every point possible, particularly for two teams trying to improve overall records that rested below .500.
Each team had 13 points apiece in the Metropolitan Division coming into it, with similar goals for and goals against numbers – 1.8/3.0 for the Flyers (6-8-3) and 2.0/2.9 for the Hurricanes (6-9-2).
Whichever team did the little things right came out the victor after 60 minutes of regulation time.
Halfway into the second period, you would have thought Carolina would claim the victory.
Powered by goals from Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask, the Hurricanes led 2-0 and were in position to win the game.
However, similar to their performance in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, they ended up coughing up their lead and losing in overtime.
“They were aggressive, they were desperate, and they were able to capitalize and make it 2-2,” captain Eric Staal said afterwards.
“Then 3-on-3 they made a play and it was done. We had a lot of momentum and a lot of chances to make the gap wider and make them not wanna play anymore, but for whatever reason we didn’t seem to muster enough to be able to do that and stay tight. Give them credit – they hung around, hung around, hung around – got more desperate in the third and we were still just tryin’ to keep that one-goal lead.”
Staal earned assists on both goals, Lindholm’s second of the season, and Rask’s fifth, which came on the power play.
Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds tallied the Flyers’ goals in the second and the third periods.
While Ward made the majority of his 16 saves on the night early on, the Flyers’ Steve Mason (19 saves) did his share of work to stop pucks late and kept his team close.
“I thought he was fine,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said of Ward’s play.
“The first one, we screened our goalie. Their D-man came down and shot from the wall; our D-man passed in front of him, prior to the shot, I don’t know if he’d seen it to be honest with you. Then the game-tying goal goes off the net-front presence. We gotta defend better in our zone – a little more grit there.”
Before the teams faced off, Hurricanes CEO and majority owner Peter Karmanos Jr. was recognized for his recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In addition, in light of the recent tragic events that occurred in Paris as a result of terrorist activity, the French national anthem was played prior to the Star-Spangled Banner.
With one of the biggest crowds in the building, 13,758, since the home opener, the buzz in the building began to heighten by the time the opening puck drop took place.
Lindholm opened the scoring at 14:14 of the first period, and gave Carolina the 1-0 lead when he finished a 2-on-1 with Staal.
Defenseman Justin Faulk set the play up with a lead pass to the Carolina captain out of the defensive zone.
With defenseman Radko Gudas as the only Flyer between them and goaltender Mason, Staal slid a pass to Lindholm who was streaking down the right wing.
Lindholm held onto the puck and tried to deke Mason by his left post, but the puck slid into and across the crease.
By the time Lindholm came around from behind the net, and as both Flyers and Hurricanes players fought for possession of the puck, it slid back out to him and allowed him to pop it into the open net.
After defenseman Ryan Murphy’s face was imprinted into the end glass by Ryan White who went to the box for boarding, Rask scored the only man-advantage marker of three on the night, and extended Carolina’s lead to 2-0 at the six-minute mark into the second period.
Staal found Rask open at the right faceoff dot and as Flyers defenseman Gudas and Mason were trying to track the puck, the young Swedish center roofed it under the cross bar.
Murphy wouldn’t return for the remainder of the game and was listed as having suffered an upper-body injury.
Later in the period, Schenn snapped a shot from the left sideboards that beat Ward clean high and over the trapper side and cut the Hurricanes lead to 2-1.
Tempers began to flare during a break in the play a few minutes later, but nothing came of it.
In the third, the Flyers’ best chance to even the score came with just under 12 minutes to go when Nathan Gerbe was penalized for hooking.
Ward made two pad saves off a point shot and rebound attempt before Matt Read nullified the Flyer’s advantage by taking a penalty for interference.
Even so, the Flyers kept pressing.
Ward got help from his post as Scott Laughton’s shot rung off the iron, but Carolina showed more of its struggle to hang on to its one-goal advantage.
The Flyers finally tied it at 2-2 with 3:09 to go in regulation when Simmonds redirected a snap shot from Shayne Gostisbehere that made it over Ward’s shoulder.
Just 38 seconds into overtime the Flyers’ Claude Giroux turned the puck over in the corner to Ward’s right, sent it back to the point to Michael Del Zotto who’s shot Voracek redirected into the net and game the visitors the win.
“I thought we played well for the most part and then didn’t have the puck enough coming down the stretch – we were defending too much – and eventually it caught us in the end.”