Necas, Hurricanes Pick Up Another Overtime Winner in Return to Raleigh

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 07: Martin Necas #88 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates a goal with teammates during the overtime of the game against the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena on November 07, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hurricanes defeat Sabres 3-2. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 07: Martin Necas #88 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates a goal with teammates during the overtime of the game against the Buffalo Sabres at PNC Arena on November 07, 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hurricanes defeat Sabres 3-2. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes made their long-awaited return to PNC Arena, playing their fourth home game in their first 13 games. Their last trip home yielded back-to-back wins over Seattle and San Jose before the team hit the road again to take two of three games against division rivals. Opposing them was the Buffalo Sabres, a team with the longest postseason drought but high aspirations for this season.

The lineup got a few tweaks after Saturday’s win on Long Island. Michael Bunting, who missed the game to attend his grandfather’s funeral, re-entered the lineup for Brendan Lemieux. Antti Raanta got his second straight start in the net, with the recently recalled Pyotr Kochetkov backing him up amidst Frederik Andersen’s ongoing medical issues.

While the Hurricanes were backed by the loud Tuesday night crowd, the Sabres controlled play for the first half of the period, aided by two early penalties from Jordan Staal. Buffalo held the puck and fired everything at Antti Raanta. During the first kill, Raanta committed highway robbery, making an incredible glove save on Peyton Krebs. During the second, Jack Drury was denied on a short-handed breakaway. This signaled a shift in the period in the Hurricanes’ favor.

The Canes earned a chance on the power play, and they capitalized. The entire sequence came at the expense of Sabres forward Jordan Greenway. After Greenway’s clearing attempt landed on Tony DeAngelo’s stick, the shot deflected off his glove, rang off the post, and landed in the back of the net for DeAngelo’s first of the season to get the Canes off and running. The Hurricanes ended the period with their one-goal lead after a strong finish to the first.

After drawing an early penalty, the Hurricanes couldn’t extend their lead on the ensuing power play, but Buffalo rode the momentum to the tying goal. Alex Tuch picked Seth Jarvis’ pocket and scored on his own rebound to get the Sabres even less than four minutes into the period. The goal didn’t faze Antti Raanta. Late in the period, he got across to make a split save on Kyle Okposo on a 2-on-1 to keep it tied at one.

The Hurricanes would get the go-ahead goal on a play requiring all five skaters. The team circled the zone with the puck to get the Sabres out of position. Dmitry Orlov faked a shot and passed it over to Sebastian Aho, who found Brady Skjei in the slot to finish the play. The lead would be short-lived. Andrei Svechnikov was called for boarding 38 seconds later, and Rasmus Dahlin played the puck to himself before snapping it to the far side of Antti Raanta to tie it less than 90 seconds after the Skjei tally.

A wild sequence nearly gave Buffalo the lead shortly after tying it. An aerial pass got behind the Canes’ defense as Casey Mittelstadt tried to chase it down. Antti Raanta came out of his net to poke the puck away, then made a diving stick save on Jordan Greenway from the top of the face-off dot with the net empty to keep it tied. Buffalo would get its fourth power play of the night in the final minutes, but the Canes killed it off, forcing overtime for the second straight game.

When the horn sounds at the end of regulation in a tie game, Martin Necas turns into Superman. He’s a very good player most nights, but he’s a different animal in overtime. There was a small scare when Alex Tuch’s shot nearly got through Antti Raanta, but the Canes escaped and moved the puck up the ice. Necas, Sebastian Aho, and Brady Skjei played catch for 35 seconds before Aho fed Necas at the top of the crease, and he redirected it to the top of the net to win the game.

If this is the version of Antti Raanta we can expect every time he’s in the net, the Hurricanes will be fine. He made a game-saving stop in all three periods, allowing the team to secure two points in overtime. He was all over the NHL’s social media feeds with his heroics. Raanta loves playing at PNC Arena. Since joining the Hurricanes, he’s 23-2-2 in Raleigh, with the second-best GAA (1.98) and the third-best save percentage (.922) of any goalie in team history at home.

Defensemen Dmitry Orlov played his best game as a Hurricane, building off his incredible night on Long Island. His offensive confidence continues to grow, as he has points in four of the last five games. The Kotkaniemi line was a problem for the Sabres all night, providing some of the team’s best shifts at 5-on-5. Sebastian Aho picked up primary assists on the final two goals of the night including the OT ending goal. Brady Skjei had another multi-point game. Martin Necas capped it off with his ninth-career OT goal.

If I had to find one complaint, it’s that the Hurricanes haven’t been finishing games in regulation. I love an overtime win just as much as the next guy, mainly because it results in two points, but there comes a point when the team needs to get it done in 60 minutes. The Canes had to beat Florida in their season finale last season because one point wouldn’t have been enough with New Jersey owning tiebreaker games over Carolina. This season, half of the team’s wins have come in extra time. The team is winning, and I’ll never complain about two points. However, a regulation win would be a refreshing change.

The Hurricanes will be back on the road for a weekend back-to-back in the Sunshine State. Friday night, it’ll be an Eastern Conference Final rematch as the Canes take on the Florida Panthers. Saturday night, they’ll be in Tampa Bay again, looking to get revenge on the Lightning after being shut out 3-0 in their last trip. For those wanting hockey in Raleigh, it’s coming in large doses after this trip. The team will only have one more road game the rest of the month of November once they return from Florida.