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Hurricanes top Sharks in overtime

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Carolina Hurricanes capped one of their most frustrating road trips with one of their most satisfying wins of the season.

The Hurricanes had lost the first four games on their longest road trip of the season, and with the score tied 2-2 and time winding down in overtime on Tuesday night, there was no guarantee they'd escape with more than one point. But defenseman Jay Harrison scored with 42 seconds left in OT, giving the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks -- and some much needed relief on the eve of the NHL's trade deadline.

"There's a lot of speculation in this room right now, a lot of guys' minds can be drifting at times," center Jordan Staal said. "It was nice, to be honest, just to get on the ice and play and not worry about that stuff and play a hard tough game and get rewarded for a big win. It was a good feeling."

Andrej Sekera blasted a shot from the point, and Elias Lindholm sent the puck to Harrison, who was wide-open just to the right of the crease. He beat backup goaltender Alex Stalock for his third goal of the season, ending Carolina's five-game losing streak.

"In the overtime we had some sustained pressure, we were moving the puck low to high, the D were involved," Harrison said. "If you watch the play again you'll see the D moving a lot up and down. That creates a little bit of havoc and causes the defense to have to turn. It was a real heads up play made by Lindholm to put it in the open space where I was and I had a pretty easy task of just banging it in."

Jiri Tlusty and Lindholm also scored for Carolina. Marty Havlat and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks.

Goaltender Anton Khudobin, who signed a two-year contract extension before the game, made 33 saves for Carolina.

Stalock stopped 32 of 35 shots for the Sharks (39-17-7), who are second in the Pacific Division, six points behind the Anaheim Ducks but nine in front of the third-place Los Angeles Kings.

"It's frustrating any time you lose a game, whether it's in overtime, regulation, whatever," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought we played the game in two segments. The first half we were struggling to find our legs and execution. We were flat for whatever reason. We reacted slowly. In the second half we started to look the way we needed to look.

"We had our chances in overtime. I thought Al was fine. He made save after save in the first half of the game where it could have gotten away from us. They're a big team and it was a good test for him."

Carolina (27-26-9) beat San Jose for the sixth time in the past seven games and swept the two-game season series. The Hurricanes beat San Jose and Stalock 5-3 on Dec. 6 at PNC Arena. They are six points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"This is a huge win for us," coach Kirk Muller said. "We played some really good games and no points. The day before the trade deadline. As a hockey player, that goes through their minds, and for them to come out and focus like this and compete the way they did, that's a great feeling that the guys prepared themselves like that."

With the score tied 2-2 after two periods, San Jose turned up the heat on Khudobin in the third, outshooting Carolina 16-7, but he stopped every shot.

"We had a lot of pressure in their zone and a lot of chances but their goalie was right there," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "I thought we had a real good third period."

Burns made a mad dash toward the crease and tried to jam a shot past Khudobin with less than 12 minutes left to play in the third, but he sent it away. Minutes later, rookie Matt Nieto took a long pass along the boards from Raffi Torres and fired a laser from the slot. Nothing doing again. Logan Couture ripped a shot with less than four minutes left that Khudobin handled easily, and he made a brilliant save of Patrick Marleau's wicked shot from the slot two minutes later.

Khudobin signed his contract extension "right before the game," then went out and showed why he got the new deal.

"There were great feelings for me after since we got the win," Khudobin said. "Our defensemen were working hard all night. They were shooting a lot of pucks and they drove hard a lot. I just had to keep focusing and figure out what I can do. It's always great to get the 'W' on the road especially after losing four in a row. We didn't expect this to be an easy game."

The Hurricanes took their first lead on their trip at 12:07 of the first period when Tlusty took a long cross-ice pass from Alexander Semin just before reaching the blue line, knifed past defenseman Jason Demers and beat Stalock with backhander between the pads.

The lead lasted exactly 58 seconds. San Jose pulled even on Havlat's fifth goal of the season at 13:05. Tyler Kennedy launched a long shot that bounced off Khudobin to Havlat, who beat him from low in the circle.

Burns gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead with 28 seconds left in the period, scoring his first goal since Jan. 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks and ending a 19-game drought.

Burns' linemates James Sheppard and Torres each had a well-deserved assist on the goal. Sheppard won a battle for the puck behind the net and fed a pass in front to Torres. He controlled the puck, then dropped a pass to Burns, who blasted the puck from short range past defenseman Ron Hainsey and Khudobin for his 15th goal of the season.

For the second straight game, Burns opened on the third line instead of his regular spot on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. But by midway through the second period, he rejoined the No. 1 line, trading places with Nieto.

"He was in the right spot, shot the puck and he did some other nice things on the ice," McLellan said. "It was very encouraging. Now the monkey is off his back maybe he can get back to relaxing and just play the way he can."

Carolina tied the game 4:16 into the second period on Lindholm's fifth goal of the season. As Eric Staal controlled the puck behind San Jose's net, Lindholm snuck into the slot. Staal hit him with a pass, and Lindholm ripped a shot past Stalock.

Lindholm "is really coming on," Muller said. "We're using him in defensive roles, offensive roles. He's the type of guy we knew that we wanted when we drafted him. Big goal from him at the start here today. His game is just getting stronger and stronger."

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