A lucky break in overtime led to a clutch goal by Sebastien Aho as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 Thursday.
Aho sped into the Calgary zone while being pressured by former teammate forward Elias Lindholm. Aho lost control of the puck, but it still had enough momentum to slide past Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom at 4:07 of overtime.
“I had some space and time to build up my speed and I decided early on to take that guy one-on-one but they made a nice switch there, little bit of side pressure,” Aho said. “[He] kind of caught me already but I got a break there, so it felt good.”
Markstrom said he thought Aho was going to cut across to the middle of the ice, so he attempted to poke-check the puck off his stick.
“I came really fast and I wanted to have my momentum with me if he was going to drag it across to the other side,” said Markstrom, who finished with 24 saves. “I felt like he wanted to do that and then Lindy caught him a little bit and he kind of lost the puck. I tried to poke it in the corner and my momentum was going the other way and it hit his skate or stick or whatever it and went over my pad and in the net.”
Aho also scored in the first period to extend his point streak to four games. Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots to pick up the win.
“I think guys played awesome today,” Andersen said. “We weren’t giving up a lot. We stuck with it all game and eventually got the break. Our patience was really good this evening.”
Defenceman Noah Hanifin scored and missed on a penalty-shot opportunity for the Flames (15-6-6), who have lost three in a row.
“Usually guys have that little extra bump in their game,” said Calgary coach Darryl Sutter in regards to Hanifin’s effort against his old team. “I thought he skated really well and did what he could.”
The Hurricanes have allowed the fewest goals against (55) in the NHL, while the Flames are second (57).
“I think both teams play pretty responsibly and have a lot of structure when they’re playing the right way,” said Hanifin. “We’re a team that expects to win. We believe in our group. We go into games, we’re believing we’re going to win the hockey game, so it’s frustrating.”
Aho opened the scoring when he redirected a pass from Jaccob Slavin past Markstrom at 4:14 of the first period.
The Flames had a great chance to tie the game at 5:33 when Hanifin was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind by Ian Cole while on a partial breakaway, but Andersen got his stick on the attempt and the puck trickled wide.
The Flames tied the game on Hanifin’s second goal of the season when his shot from the point glanced off the stick of Carolina forward Jesper Fast and beat a stunned Andersen over his left shoulder.
Early in the third, Calgary forward Dillon Dube’s shot from the slot glanced off the post behind Andersen and was trickling across the goal-line. Carolina forward Teuvo Teravainen reached back to pull it out before clearing it out of harm’s way.
“The guys made some great plays on those going through or behind me,” Andersen said. “That’s awesome. I’ll take the help, sometimes. Just great plays.”
Slavin also made a great play late in the game to prevent another goal. Calgary defenceman Rasmus Andersson tried to centre the puck from behind the net, but it hit Slavin in the leg and was heading into the net before the Carolina defenceman reached back to swat it away with his stick.
“I can’t be more impressed about an individual,” said Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour in regards to Slavin who logged 32:28 in ice time to lead all players. “This is just kind of icing on the cake that he can do this. It’s obviously not something we want to do, but we’re missing some great players here.”
Although Carolina defencemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo were cleared to practise earlier this week after being in COVID-19 protocol, they didn’t make the trip up to Canada for the game against the Flames ... Pesce and DeAngelo will also miss Carolina’s next two road games against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday ... Fellow Carolina defenceman Ethan Bear also missed Thursday’s game due to a non-COVID related illness.