TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Sergey Tolchinsky is a human highlight machine.
Tolchinsky spun around a defender, dangled and slid the puck to the back of the net to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers in their first game of the NHL Prospects Tournament.
"We had three goals like that - highlight goals - tonight," head coach Ulf Samuelsson said. "It's tough to pick the one that was prettiest, but that was a spectacular goal."
A veteran of four Prospects Tournaments, Tolchinsky is no stranger to finding the back of the net in jaw-dropping fashion. His game-winner tonight was no different, and it gave the Hurricanes a win in what was a back-and-forth contest to begin the tournament.
"We wanted to make everything quicker and keep that quick pace. They couldn't keep up with us," Tolchinsky explained. "Play hard, be first on pucks, get pucks to the net and make good moves. I think we played really good."
Video: NHL Prospects Tournament game highlights vs. NY Rangers
It took the Hurricanes a shift to settle into the first period, but after that they controlled the pace of play and took a 1-0 lead into the intermission thanks to 2016 second-round draft choice Janne Kuokkanen's goal. From his own end, Kuokkanen skated untouched through the neutral zone, cut back to the middle of the ice at the top of the faceoff circles and fired a top-shelf snipe past Brandon Halverson.
"It's a big win for us," Kuokkanen said. "It's going to give us a lot of extra boost."
"I think there were a lot of nerves initially even though it's preseason. A lot of guys just wanted to skate hard," Samuelsson said. "The pace was high. The pace of the game surprised me a little bit in how good it was."
The Rangers pushed back in the second period, and Alex Nedeljkovic was challenged early. New York broke through and tied the game at one when college free agent signee Jimmy Vesey tipped in a shot from the point. That lead was short-lived, as Haydn Fleury's shot squeaked through Halverson and put the Canes back on top by a goal.
A tough five-minute span later in the period kept the Rangers in this one. Goals from Robin Kovacs, via a giveaway in the Canes' own end, and Dylan Di Perna gave New York its first and only lead of the contest. The Canes would answer back before the end of the period, with Lucas Wallmark darting through the middle in between two defenders and scoring five-hole.
"You've got to give the Rangers credit. They came out real hard in the second and were really firm on the 50-50 battles," Samuelsson said. "It took us a few minutes to get going, but we responded well as a team. Kept it nice and calm on the bench, and the guys were confident and worked their way out of it."
Video: Ulf Samuelsson discusses the Canes 4-3 OT win in Traverse City
Despite the win, one piece of unfortunate news emerged from tonight's game. Defenseman and team captain Haydn Fleury tumbled to the ice awkwardly in overtime - on a play that should have been blown dead earlier due to a dislodged net, anyway - before being helped off the ice. Fleury is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Hurricanes are back in action on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild at 7:00 p.m.
2016 NHL Prospects Tournament
|DATE ||VISITOR ||HOME ||TIME (ET) / RESULT |
|Fri Sep 16, 2016 ||Hurricanes ||Rangers ||4-3 W (OT) |
|Sat Sep 17, 2016 ||Wild ||Hurricanes ||7:00 p.m. |
|Mon Sep 19, 2016 ||Stars ||Hurricanes ||6:30 p.m. |
|Tue Sep 20, 2016 ||TBD ||TBD ||TBD |