Even though the Carolina Hurricanes entered Game 3 of their Second Round series trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning by two games, it was not for a lack of effort.
Or poor play.
They were simply getting beat by a world-class goalie that has been in the zone all postseason and not showing any cracks.
The Hurricanes finally found a few in their 3-2 overtime win in Game 3 on Thursday night. Jordan Staal scored the game-winning goal, deflecting a Sebastian Aho shot on the power play early in the overtime period. That goal came after Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov took an offensive zone penalty.
Aho scored a goal of his own and assisted on the Hurricanes’ other goal in the win.
Entering play on Thursday the Hurricanes had managed just two goals, both on the power play, in the first two games of the series. They finally scored a 5-on-5 goal, and took their first lead of the series, midway through the second period when Brett Pesce blasted a one-timer by Vasilevskiy to break the ice.
Aho scored his goal just a few minutes later on a breakaway to give the Hurricanes a two-goal lead.
That lead, though, would be short-lived as the Lightning’s power play struck for a pair of quick goals just a few minutes later to tie the game.
That power play was back on the ice late in the third period and into overtime, but was unable to score. That set the stage for Staal’s winner.
The other big story to come out of this game was Carolina’s decision to switch goalies, starting veteran Petr Mrazek in place of Alex Nedelkjovic. It was a bold move given the way the series had played out over the first two games (Carolina was not losing because of its goaltending), but it ended up working in the Hurricanes’ favor. Mrazek stopped 35 out of 37 shots in the win.
LIGHTNING VS. HURRICANES (TB leads 2-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
Game 2: Lightning 2, Hurricanes 1
Game 3: Thurs. June 3: Hurricanes 2, Lightning 1 (OT)
Game 4: Sat. June 5: Hurricanes at Lightning, 4 p.m. ET (USA Network)
*Game 5: Tues. June 8: Lightning at Hurricanes TBD
*Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Hurricanes at Lightning TBD
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Lightning at Hurricanes