Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal – Sportsnet.ca

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal - Sportsnet.ca
Hurricanes extend Wild Card lead with OT win over Canadiens
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price for 54 minutes.

Price turned away shot after shot, to the point that even Hurricanes coach Rod BrindAmour thought there was no way his team was going to find the net.

It was a chance for the Habs to move into a tie for the first wild-card spot with a win over the red-hot Hurricanes. Carey Price going back-to-back nights shows how important the game is for the Habs and how healthy Price is as well.

Andrei Svechnikov scored with 1:45 left in overtime as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Canadiens 2-1 in a matchup with Eastern Conference playoff implications.

It’s been the biggest game of the year for three weeks running now, and the one in Carolina on Sunday night was far bigger than all the ones that preceded it.

Carolinas Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the tying goal with 5:39 remaining, and Svechnikov ended it with a wrist shot through Prices legs in the extra session.

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After Price stopped Carolinas first 36 shots, he allowed two goals on the final four shots he faced.

While they hold a three-point advantage, the Canadiens face a tough road to end the season. Of their seven remaining games, only one team has a negative goal differential, and only two have a lower goal differential than Montreal. Luckily for them, one of those teams is the Blue Jackets. The Canadiens have been playing well of late, but this is still a tighter battle than some believe.

“It didnt look like it was going to happen,” BrindAmour said. “Youre hoping for one or two or three Grade-A chances in the third and we had more than that. So it was like, if those arent going in, whats going to go in?”

A lot of whats left in the season comes down to the math of how points are dolled out in the NHL. Its easy to look at the Blue Jackets and think that since theyre only a few points out with eight games left, there’s enough time to make up ground. However, you also have to account for how many points the Canadiens and Hurricanes are going to accumulate over that time.

What went in was van Riemsdyks wrist shot from the point through traffic that clipped the skate of Montreal defenceman Jordie Benn and found the bottom left corner of the net.

Over in the East, the race has been fairly clear for a long stretch now. A few weeks ago it appeared that the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to be in a four-team stretch drive, but a red-hot streak has put them four points clear of the wild card. That leaves the Easts wild card spots up for grabs between the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens.

Hurricanes edge Canadiens in overtime after goaltending duel

It was a critical goal from an improbable source in van Riemsdyk, who scored for just the third time this season.

The Avalanche and Canadiens need six and seven points, respectively, and based on how theyve played so far this season each team should be able to hit those marks in the games they have remaining. Both teams hold the last wild card spot in their respective conference and control their own destinies. If they play well enough, theyll make it in.

“Obviously you know youre playing one of the best goalies in the world, if not the best goalie in the world, so its going to take some something a little uglier to beat him,” van Riemsdyk said. “You just gotta stick with it. You cant get frustrated. We just kept trudging away.”

After jumping off the bench on a line change in overtime, Svechnikov took a pass from Jordan Staal, skated down the right side and whipped the puck through Prices legs to end it.

One problem is that the schedule will be tougher. The Canadiens’ three wins last week included victories over Philadelphia and Buffalo, two non-playoff teams. The Panthers fall in that category, but the Canadiens follow that up with two road games. On Thursday they have a must-win game against Columbus, the team chasing them for the second wild-card spot, and on Saturday they are in Winnipeg to face the Central Division-leading Jets.

“Were disappointed, we came here to win,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We needed to protect the house and they ruined it pretty good there.”

With the win, the Hurricanes remained alone in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal squandered a chance to move into a tie with Carolina with a win.

They got the scoring started when Brendan Gallagher fired a shot from the left faceoff circle that was deflected by Teuvo Teravainen. But the rolling puck went straight to Byron along the far post, and he buried it.

“When you’re winning 1-0 halfway through the third, you look at your team and say the penalty kill really did a good job taking away the momentum (Carolina) was looking for at that point,” said Julien. “Beside the big saves Carey made, the penalty kill was good and we gave them some fits.”

The Canadiens had other opportunities, too. Jeff Petry hit the post in the first period, and in the second, Tomas Tatar also hit a post. Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a breakaway denied by McElhinney and Nate Thompsons point-blank shot in the crease after a turnover was stuffed by McElhinney, as well.

“(McEhinney) just played an unbelievable game,” Svechnikov said. “He kept us in that game, for sure.”

“Theres no nerves to his game and it settles our group down,” BrindAmour said. “You cant say enough good things. He went toe-to-toe with the best goalie in the world and he certainly didnt take a back seat.”

The Canadiens were unable to add a goal in the second period but they couldn’t be accused of sitting on the lead. They outshot Carolina 9-0 over the first 14:20 of the period and forced McElhinney to make some big saves. He stopped rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi on a breakaway and received sone help from defenceman Jacob Slavin later in the period. McElhinney was caught out of position and Tatar had a shot at the empty net but Slavin knocked the puck away as it was headed to the far post.

The Hurricanes finally put the pressure on in the third period, but couldnt solve Price. Sebastain Aho was robbed of two prime scoring chances, and Teravainen couldnt convert a breakaway with just under nine minutes remaining.

Neither goaltender had trouble getting involved in the game because both teams came out firing shots. The Hurricanes had 10 shots on goal before the game was seven minutes old and finished the first period with a 21-12 edge. The Canadiens helped Price by keeping many of the shots to the outside and the Hurricanes’ defencemen accounted for 11 of those shots. Brock McGinn had the Hurricanes’  best chance when he had an open net but he hesitated and then fired wide.

But just when it looked as if Price was headed to a shutout, van Riemdsyk found the net, and the Hurricanes turned the tables to move closer to ending their nine-year playoff drought.

Montreal had chances early in the period but McElhinney made a glove save on Phillip Danault in the first minute and he threw out his leg to make a pad save on Domi. The Canadiens had a seven-minute stretch without a shot in the middle of the period but Paul Byron scored his 15th goal of the season at 14:58 to open the scoring.

“This was a fun one tonight,” McElhinney said. “I dont think we ever got down by the situation. Theres been some tough games, some tough periods where we just kind of hung in there, and it showed tonight.”

Carolina Hurricanes' Saku Maenalanen (8), of Finland, jumps over Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price while Hurricanes' Greg McKegg (42) looks on and Canadiens' Jordie Benn (8) falls during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, March 24, 2019.   Gerry Broome /AP

NOTES: The Hurricanes improved to 12-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. … Svechnikov, 18, became the youngest player in Hurricanes franchise history to score an overtime goal. . Staal extended his point streak to three games. . Micheal Ferland set a single-season career high with his 21st assist. . Price was starting on back-to-back nights for the third time in four days. … The game was broadcast on Canadas Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in Plains Cree, the first time an NHL broadcast has aired in the Indigenous language.

"Obviously you know you're playing one of the best goalies in the world, if not the best goalie in the world, so it's going to take some something a little uglier to beat him," van Riemsdyk said. "You just gotta stick with it. You can't get frustrated. We just kept trudging away."

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Hurricanes game at PNC Arena Sunday (7 p.m., SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The Canadiens had other opportunities, too. Jeff Petry hit the post in the first period, and in the second, Tomas Tatar also hit a post. Jesperi Kotkaniemi had a breakaway denied by McElhinney and Nate Thompson's point-blank shot in the crease after a turnover was stuffed by McElhinney, as well.

Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Hurricanes game at PNC Arena Sunday (7 p.m., SN, RDS, APTN, TSN 690 Radio).

"It didn't look like it was going to happen," Brind'Amour said. "You're hoping for one or two or three Grade-A chances in the third and we had more than that. So it was like, if those aren't going in, what's going to go in?"

The matchup: This is the third and final meeting between these teams this season and this is the important game for both teams after splitting the first two games at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens are coming off a wild 7-4 win over Buffalo at home Saturday while the Hurricanes maintained a two-point lead in the battle for the first wild-card spot with a 5-1 win over Minnesota. That game was in Raleigh and the extra rest will give the Hurricanes an edge.

"There's no nerves to his game and it settles our group down," Brind'Amour said. "You can't say enough good things. He went toe-to-toe with the best goalie in the world and he certainly didn't take a back seat."

Gallagher, Domi provide offence: The top two lines provided the bulk of the offence in Saturday’s win. Brendan Gallagher scored two goals and added an assist while Domi and Tomas Tatar each added a goal and an assist. They two goals gave Gallagher a career-high 33 for the season while Domi brought his career high up to 26. One of Domi’s assists allowed the snake-bit Artturi Lehkonen to score. It was his ninth of the season but the Finn has scored only two goals in the last 43 games. Speaking of offence, Andrew Shaw had a goal and an assist. Shaw has a career-high 18 goals and 40 points, which is even more impressive when you consider that he has missed 19 games this season because of injuries.

Double duty for Price: This is a back-to-back game and, under normal circumstances, coach Claude Julien would look to backup goaltender Antti Niemi. But these aren’t normal circumstances and that means Carey Price will get a second consecutive start. Price and the Canadiens are on a three-game winning streak and must continue winning if they hope to snare a playoff spot. They also need some help from their friends because Carolina is still two points ahead and while ninth-place Columbus is three back, they hold a game in hand.

Is the power play back? The Canadiens have had the worst power play in the league for most of this season, but there are small signs that Montreal is turning things around. When Max Domi scored a power-play goal late in the third period on Saturday, it marked the second consecutive game with a Montreal power-play goal. It’s a small sample, but the Canadiens have been getting more good looks and the Sabres came into the Bell Centre with the seventh-best penalty-killing record in the NHL.

The other guys: The Hurricanes are led by Finns Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The 21-year-old Aho has emerged as a top offensive player in his third NHL season with 30 goals and 50 assists, while Teravainen has 19 goals and 70 points. The 37-year-old Justin Williams is next in the scoring parade with 22 goals and he provides solid leadership and the experience that comes in handy during a playoff race. He was a part of Carolina’s Stanley Cup-winning team in 2006. The Hurricanes also have a standout rookie in 18-year-old Andrei Svechnikov. The Russian teen has 19 goals and 16 assists. Veterans Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek provide solid goaltending on a team ranked ninth in defence.