By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C.- They were loud.
They were in a rowdy mood fueled by Scotty McCreery sounding the siren.
Caniacs were there for their team at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
And the Carolina Hurricanes sent them home happy.
Jordan Staal’s overtime winner at 1:44 gave Carolina the 3-2 win and a 3-2 lead in their opening round series against the Nashville Predators.
“We finally got a bounce – something that went our way,” head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Snipes and stops
Martin Necas carried the load for the Canes, netting his first two goals of the postseason.
Yakov Trenin scored both goals for the Predators.
Alex Nedeljkovic made 23 stops for Carolina while his counterpart in the Nashville net, Juuse Saros, stopped 34.
After missing three games, Canes defenseman Jaccob Slavin threw the first big hit of the game, just 90 seconds in, showing he was ready to compete.
The post-whistle jabs and chirps between players continued.
The Canes PK was tested early.
The First 20
Both sides were scoreless through the opening 10 minutes.
The Preds opened the scoring with 8:16 remaining.
Even though it was reviewed, the still goal counted.
After getting hit from behind, Andrei Svechnikov landed a few punches in frustration and surprisingly enough that resulted in a power play for Carolina.
Necas soon evened the score with a snap shot past Saros.
The Next 20
The Predators took a 2-1 lead 53 seconds into the second period.
Pace of play at both ends picked up, keeping Nedeljkovic and Saros busy.
It looked as though Carolina tied it around the 12-minute mark when Slavin ‘s point shot made it through traffic and off a skate to end up behind Saros.
However, the goal was reviewed and disallowed due to goaltender interference.
The home crowd was, understandably, unhappy with the ruling.
The period ended with Nashville maintaining it’s lead.
The Final 20
Carolina struggled to beat Saros, fronted by a tightly gapped defense.
Still trailing 2-1 past the midpoint of the third, Necas caught the netminder out of position on the left post and circled behind the net to wrap the puck in on the other side.
The building erupted in jubilation – and relief.
Tied 2-2, both sides headed to overtime for the third consecutive game in the series.
“We knew we had better to give,” Slavin said.
“Guys were ready and responded well.”
The Extra 2
Both teams were handed penalties early in the extra period.
Soon after, Staal batted the puck thorough Saros’ pads at 1:44 and ended the game and gave the Canes the win and equally important, the lead in the series.
“They were doing a good job of clogging everything up,” Staal said.
“Getting a big win like that felt good. We had two rough ones in overtime – it felt good to have one go our way”.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport