Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves and recorded the game-winning assist to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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On Friday, Alex Nedeljkovic made his engagement official. On Saturday, he recorded his first career NHL point and his 14th victory of the season in a 31-save performance. That's a pretty good start to the weekend.
"It's been exciting," he smiled. "I'm looking forward to the rest of my life with the love of my life, and to get the win tonight makes it even more special."
It was another strong outing in net for Nedeljkovic, who sports a 1.89 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage on the season.
"He was huge. He played a heck of a game," Jaccob Slavin said. "We didn't have our prettiest game tonight, but he held us in there and made some big saves when he had to."
"He's just been making the solid saves," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He's been great. He was really one of the best players on the ice tonight."
Nedeljkovic saved his best for last, when he peeked up, saw a red jersey behind the Columbus trio on the ice and banked a pass off the near boards to spring Dougie Hamilton on a breakaway.
"Can't get much better than that aside from scoring yourself," Nedeljkovic said. And maybe that's next for the guy who's already scored a goal in the ECHL and AHL.
"It's very hard to get an assist as a goalie, but the way he plays the puck is unbelievable," Hamilton said. "If he can keep going here, I wouldn't be surprised to see him score a goal soon, too."
In overtime, Hamilton was able to sneak behind the white sweaters on the ice, and Nedeljkovic was able to dish a bank pass out to spring Hamilton on a breakaway. Forehand, backhand, goal, and Hamilton made a beeline toward the throng that had already mobbed Nedeljkovic.
Video: CBJ@CAR: Hamilton nets OT winner on a breakaway
"I didn't get enough on it as I would have liked, but it was enough," Nedeljkovic said of his pass. "Dougie made a great move to finish it."
When the Canes were in search of an equalizing tally in the first period, their big boys - their most threatening line of the game - came through.
Andrei Svechnikov laid the puck off for Sebastian Aho at the blue line. Svechnikov drove the middle of the ice, which helped Teuvo Teravainen slide into a soft spot between the tops of the circles. Aho put the puck in Teravainen's wheelhouse, and he ripped a one-time rocket past Elvis Merzļikins to tie the game at one with 76 seconds left in the period.
Video: CBJ@CAR: Teravainen blasts a one-timer into the twine
The Canes' penalty kill was only called upon in the third period, and they were masterful. The Canes dispatched 1:43 of a 5-on-3 advantage for Columbus and the ancillary 5-on-4 time, as well. Brett Pesce logged a 1:44 shift on the kill, while Slavin remained on the ice for 2:23. Columbus, meanwhile, managed only two shots on goal, while the Canes blocked a third shot attempt.
"I didn't move around much during that 5-on-3, to be honest. Pesce had a huge block," Slavin said. "You keep it tight at 5-on-3. 5-on-4, you skate a lot more. I guess I was just able to stay fresh that way."
That effort on the kill, which preserved the 1-1 score, brought the current-capacity crowd of 4,987 to its feet.
"It was unreal. Those guys are fearless. It's pretty impressive to watch. The whole bench sees it and respects it a lot," Hamilton said. "It was a big moment for us to kill that in the game."
7: Aho, the Central Division's Star of the Month for April, recorded the primary assist on Teravainen's goal to extend his season-long point streak to seven games (3g, 9a).
12/12/15: Nedeljkovic is the first Canes goaltender since Eddie Lack (Dec. 12, 2015 at ARI) to assist on an overtime goal.
10: The Canes are now riding a 10-game point streak (7-0-3).
Jaccob Slavin for … Vezina?
Jaccob Slavin can really do it all. What a kick save!
Video: CBJ@CAR: Slavin slides in front of net to stop shot
"I had to do something about it, and thankfully I got a piece of it," the birthday boy said.
Quote of the Night
"It definitely could have gotten away from us. We found our game a little bit. We had spurts where we were really good and playing our game. … Then, there were spurts when we were getting ourselves into trouble. It's definitely a game you look back on and you're thankful you got the two points, and you're thankful you have a goalie who played that well. At the end of the day, it's two points." - Jaccob Slavin
The Canes will close out this five-game homestand with three straight against the Chicago Blackhawks.