For the third consecutive game, the Predators and Hurricanes went to overtime.
This time, the result was different.
The Predators had taken the last two contests — both on home ice in Nashville — in double overtime marathons.
Back on their own home ice, in front of a near-full crowd, the Hurricanes didn’t let it get that far this time; in fact, they barely had to play any overtime hockey at all.
With just 2:03 gone in overtime, Saros poked away a puck that found its way in his crease. It went right to Staal at the bottom of the circle, and he batted it out of the air for his fourth official goal of the postseason.
That goal counted; the one he almost scored earlier in the game did not.
The puck deflected off of Staal’s skate in the second period and into the net, and that would have knotted the score up at 2-2 before Necas tied it for real in the third. Predators head coach John Hynes, who hadn’t attempted a challenge all season, wanted an extra look for goalie interference, and the goal was wiped off the board.
Staal will likely take his ultimate tally, though, to send the Hurricanes back into a series lead.
Necas’ goal to tie it was a wraparound past Saros, and one of 11 shots the Hurricanes took in the third period. Carolina ended up outshooting the Predators 37-25, and outshot them in every period, including 2-0 in the brief overtime session.
The Hurricanes also finally found an answer to their power play woes on Necas first goal in the first frame after they had struggled throughout the series.
It’s tough to imagine Carolina losing two more games, especially with a potential Game 7 in Raleigh. Game 6 will be no cake walk, though, as the Predators proved they are formidable on home ice. Even as the Hurricanes came back to take Game 5, it was still a strong effort from the Preds on the road to bring it to that point.
Game 6 is Thursday night back in Nashville, and this time the Predators backs are against the walls with nowhere to go.
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Predators 2
Game 2: Hurricanes 3, Predators 0
Game 3: Predators 5, Hurricanes 4 (2OT)
Game 4: Predators 4, Hurricanes 3 (2OT)
Tuesday, May 25: Hurricanes 3, Predators 2 (OT)
Thursday, May 27: Hurricanes at Predators, 9:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Saturday, May 29: Predators at Hurricanes TBD