SUNRISE - With a little late-game magic and a highlight-reel play in overtime, the Carolina Hurricanes topped the Florida Panthers for the second straight game in a 3-2 final.
Down 2-1 late in regulation, Vincent Trocheck netted the equalizer with the extra attacker on, and Martin Necas finished it off in 3-on-3 action. Alex Nedeljkovic earned his third win of the season with 44 saves.
"It's always good to win, no matter how you do it. Obviously, that's not how you would draw it up. The third period was shaky for us. We were on our heels," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We seem to never quit. It looked like it was going to go the other way tonight, and we bounce back. Give the guys a lot of credit for digging in."
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Martin Necas is a dangerous asset to posses in 3-on-3 overtime. With his dynamic skating abilities and crafty stickhandling, he's practically built to succeed in open ice - and there's plenty of it in overtime with just three skaters aside.
With a little over three minutes left in the extra stanza, the Canes wound up a rush from their own zone. Necas sped through the neutral zone with the puck down along the near wall. Necas gained the zone and cut to the middle of the ice, where he then laid the puck off for Sebastian Aho. Aho carried it and threaded a pass through two defenders, right to Necas' tape for the tap-in.
Video: CAR@FLA: Necas buries Aho's feed for game-winner
"He made a beautiful pass. I didn't even see how it got through," Necas said. "It was right on my tape, and I had an empty net."
The goal was Necas' second overtime-winner of the season, and he finished the evening with three points (1g, 2a).
Without the play of Nedeljkovic in net, especially when the Canes were under siege in the third period, they probably wouldn't have even been a position to tie the game late in regulation. Nedeljkovic made a career high 44 stops to earn his third win of the season.
"He played great. He made some big saves," Necas said. "I feel like we didn't play our best, but we found a way, and Ned was a big part of it."
Though the Panthers got two pucks by him in the third period, Nedeljkovic still came up with 21 saves in the final stanza alone.
"His last few starts, he's been real sharp," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Tonight, that's one of those you look back and we'll say he got us the victory tonight and kept us in the game in the third."
Trocheck has faced his former team thrice this season, and he's scored a goal in each of those games. It's the Vincent Trocheck revenge tour.
When it seemed as though the Panthers were going to ride a third-period onslaught to another come-from-behind victory, Trocheck made his old friends think again. With the extra attacker on for the Canes, Necas worked the puck down below to the goal line to Nino Niederreiter, who one-touched it to Trocheck in the slot. Trocheck then pounded the one-timer past Chris Driedger and emphatically pumped his fist.
Video: CAR@FLA: Trocheck buries late game-tying goal
"If there was a camera on the whole bench, you'd see the guys jumping up like it was an overtime goal," Nedeljkovic said. "We found a way to respond after giving up a lead these last few nights. That's what good teams do."
The goal was Trocheck's team-leading 11th of the season and second in as many games.
Who had Pesce leading Canes defensemen in scoring through the first 21 games of the season?
"Believe it or not, I did use to be an offensive guy in school," he smiled.
Pesce has 13 points (3g, 10a), including points in three straight games, and five of those points (2g, 3a) have come in his last five games. Pesce opened the scoring with a rocket of a one-timer on the power play, the puck whizzing past Driedger, who was completely screened by Jesper Fast.
Video: CAR@FLA: Pesce cranks a one-timer for opening PPG
2: Martin Necas' game-winning goal in overtime was his second of the season.
11-2-2: Since 2016-17, the Canes are 11-2-2 against the Panthers.
Celly of the Night
NHL 94 vibes.
Quote of the Night
"Good teams find ways to win. You're not going to be your best for all 82, or whatever this is - 56 games. You've got to find a way no matter how it is, and if it takes a hot goalie to bail us out … then so be it. It was a gutsy win, and we all know we can clean it up." - Brett Pesce
The Canes head to Nashville to face off with the Predators on Tuesday night, closing out this five-game road trip.