Jordan Staal’s OT winner gives Hurricanes first win in series versus Lightning

Jordan Staal tipped in a shot for the winning goal on a power play 5:57 into overtime as the visiting Carolina Hurricanes finally broke through against the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning 3-2 in Game 3 on Thursday night.

With Nikita Kucherov in the penalty box, the Hurricanes were able to keep the puck in their zone and convert against Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Sebastian Aho notched the primary assist on the winning goal.

Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek made 35 saves. Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots.

“I’m always proud of the group,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Whatever happens to them, they find a way to focus on the game and just go do their job, and that’s what happened tonight.”

Brett Pesce and Aho scored in a stretch of less than 2 1/2 minutes in the second period for the Hurricanes. Aho also assisted on the first goal.

Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Alex Killorn scored power-play goals in the second period.

Game 4 in the best-of-seven, second-round series is scheduled for Saturday in Tampa, Fla.

Hurricanes made a change in net

jordan staal OT
Jun 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek (34) makes a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during overtime in game three of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Hurricanes gave Mrazek his first action of this postseason because Alex Nedeljovic had been used in the team’s first eight playoff games. Earlier in the day, Nedeljovic was named a finalist for Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

Pesce’s second goal of the postseason came 5:15 into the second period. It marked just the second time in eight postseason games this year that the Hurricanes scored the first goal.

That provided the first lead of the series for the Hurricanes. Point answered for the Lightning just 77 seconds after Carolina’s second goal.

Killorn tied the score on a goal with 3:42 to play in the second period. He was assisted by Kucherov and Point.

Those goals made the Lightning 2-for-2 on power plays.

Hurricanes versus Lightning playoffs top notch hockey

There hasn’t been a first-period goal scored in the series. Tampa Bay held a 10-9 edge in shots through the opening period Thursday after finishing Game 2 on the short end of a 32-15 count on shots.

“We’ve had a pretty good series here,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I think our team has gotten better every single game, and that’s what I like. … We just have to keep going. You can’t hang your head on these. You’ve just got to turn the page and go to the next one. The playoffs are one big [darn] roller coaster.”

Neither team scored in the third period, though the Lightning had a large majority of the scoring chances.

Overtime was nothing new to the Hurricanes, who played four consecutive overtime games to conclude the first-round series with the Nashville Predators.

–Field Level Media