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Recap: Canes Fight Back to Defeat Caps in OT

Gardiner scores game-winning goal in overtime

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

WASHINGTON - It seems the Carolina Hurricanes have a flair for the dramatic early in the 2019-20 season.

The Hurricanes spoiled the Capitals' home opener by erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period and then snagging the extra point in a 3-2 overtime win.

Erik Haula and Jaccob Slavin tallied to tie the score in the third, and Jake Gardiner netted the game-winner in overtime. James Reimer made 32 saves to earn his first victory with the Canes.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday night in DC.

1. Another One

For the second time in as many games, the Hurricanes rallied from a deficit to earn a victory. And this time, they did so down multiple goals, on the road no less.

"Any time you have some adversity like this, whether it's game two or game 82, it's good to come back and battle. I thought we worked hard all game," Reimer said. "It was just a matter of sticking with it for a full 60 or 64-and-a-half. … It's a good win for us. It shows the character we have in here."

The Hurricanes weren't playing poorly in the first 40 minutes. They caught a couple of tough breaks, took a few too many penalties and couldn't sneak a shot, including a couple of breakaway chances, past Braden Holtby, who was playing like a goaltender who's going to cash in on a new contract this summer.

It was just a matter of sticking with it, getting one and building from there.

"We know we're capable of it," Gardiner said. "Sometimes you're going to go down a few goals, and hopefully you can battle back."

2. Gardiner Wins It

Jake Gardiner's first goal with the Hurricanes is one to remember: a game-winning goal in the final minute of overtime in a hostile environment against a divisional rival.

"That was a fun way to do it, for sure," he smiled.

In the final minute of 3-on-3 overtime, Gardiner corralled the puck at his own blue line and skated off with Sebastian Aho on a 2-on-1 rush. Nicklas Backstrom was the lone man defending for Washington, while Jakub Vrana attempted to hustle back. As Backstrom faded over to Aho, Gardiner settled the puck and fired a shot that beat Holtby on his blocker side.

Video: CAR@WSH: Gardiner fires home game-winner in OT

"I had to make a decision on whether I was going to pass or shoot," Gardiner said. "I had a pretty good angle at it, and I thought [shooting] was the right decision."

It sure was.

3. Third Period Rally

Down 2-0 in Washington? It wasn't a problem for the Hurricanes in Game 7 in April, and it wasn't a problem in the second game of the 2019-20 regular season, either.

The Hurricanes first killed 51 seconds of carryover penalty time at the start of the third period and then received a power play of their own when Radko Gudas was whistled for interference. As it turned out, the third power play was the charm.

It took some passing wizardry and a quick finish, but the Canes finally got a puck past Holtby. From the point, Dougie Hamilton swung the puck over to Andrei Svechnikov, who went cross ice to Teuvo Teravainen. Teravainen then delivered the mail right on Haula's tape in front for the easy tap in. The goal was Haula's second in as many games, one of the Canes' offseason additions already aiding the power play.

Video: CAR@WSH: Haula finishes tap-in PPG in front

Jaccob Slavin is one of the league's top defenders, and he's sneaky good offensively, as well. He flexed that element of his game to tie the score at two in the third, a little more than seven minutes after the Canes first got on the board. Slavin joined the rush, gloving down an airborne pass from Jordan Martinook. Slavin then went from his backhand to his forehand to chip the puck past Holtby.

Video: CAR@WSH: Slavin completes pretty passing play

"That offense is there in him. Love to see that, jumping up into the play at the right times," Brind'Amour said. "He can score. He can finish. That was a huge goal."

4. Reimer Wins His First

Gardiner wasn't the only newcomer to play a critical role in the Canes' second victory of the year. James Reimer, acquired from Florida at the end of June, made his first start since March 26 and earned his first win of the season with his new team.

Reimer turned away 32 of the 34 shots he faced, which included six in overtime as the Canes had to kill their sixth penalty of the game.

"We had a couple breakdowns, especially late, where the game could have gone the other way. He made a couple nice saves," Brind'Amour said. "The big kill in overtime. That's the difference maker, for sure."

The Canes certainly flirted with danger against a lethal power play, especially in overtime, but they were able to neutralize the threat of Alex Ovechkin, and Reimer was there to stop anything that got past the defense, including a puck that squibbed right along the goal line at the tail end of the Caps' OT man advantage.

Video: CAR@WSH: Reimer dives to keep puck out in overtime

"We got some big blocks, and I managed to get a piece of a few," Reimer said. "You don't want to give that PP that many chances. I think it's proof of how hard we worked. Guys were laying down, blocking shots and battling, especially on that one in OT. It's about sacrifice and the character we have in here to lay it all on the line."

A win makes Reimer's Hurricanes debut even sweeter.

"It's been a while since I played, so to get a start early here and collectively, as a group, to pull out the win is big. It's a long process. This win is nice, but it's one building block," Reimer said. "We're building here, and every day we're trying to be a better team."

5. Challenges

One of the unfortunate bounces that got past Reimer was a goal credited to T.J. Oshie in the second period. Reimer made an initial save, and the puck bounced high in the air. Oshie tracked it, and on its way to the ice, the Caps forward got a piece of the puck with his stick and then tapped it in the net. Slavin reached to save the puck, but it had already completely crossed the goal line, which a review confirmed.

Confusion surrounded Oshie's initial play on the puck, which appeared to be above the crossbar. That would have been illegal had the puck then gone directly into the net, but since he subsequently played the puck, the determinant of a high stick became his shoulders; it was a close call, but it looked like his stick was indeed below his shoulders. Good (weird) goal.

"Honestly, I don't understand the second goal still," Reimer laughed.

Garnet Hathaway appeared to score his second goal of the game late in the second period, which would have given the Capitals a 3-0 lead, but the Hurricanes challenged for goaltender interference, and rightly so. Brendan Leipsic pushed his way through Reimer in the blue paint as the puck left Hathaway's stick, impairing Reimer's ability to make a save. No goal.

"I felt like I was interfered with," Reimer said. "I felt like he came right through and hit me as the puck was on its way. I was in my crease. I feel like that's textbook goalie interference."

"That was a big break, obviously, but that one was pretty clear for us," Brind'Amour said. "Of all the goaltender interference that happened in the league over the years that you're just not sure, that one for me was automatic."

Up Next

It's a quick turnaround for the Hurricanes, who host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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