For the second straight game, Matthew Tkachuk scored the winning goal in overtime and the Florida Panthers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.
After a marathon of four overtime periods in Game 1, the suspense lasted a lot less on Saturday. Tkachuk gave his team the win after 111 seconds of play, and Sergei Bobrovsky smoked again in front of the Panthers with 37 saves.
“I feel like we’re getting better, even though the first 10 minutes weren’t our best. I felt like we were playing better as the match progressed. We have to start our meetings better,” said Tkachuk.
On his return to the Hurricanes goal, Antti Raanta stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced.
“We played well. I’m happy with the way we played. We didn’t find a way to score. It’s tough and you can see the streak is thin,” said Hurricanes coach Rod Brind Amore.
Canes was quick to open the scoring in this duel. Jalen Chatfield capitalized on a fine shot from Sebastian Ahu to score the first deciding goal of his career after just 103 seconds.
The Panthers thought they had tied the game after only a minute. Gustav Forsling beat ANTE RANTA, but Rod Brind’Amour chose to challenge the referees’ decision due to possible offside, the coach was right and the Kensers managed to maintain their lead.
If the Panthers trail by just one goal in the first half, it’s largely down to Sergey Bobrovsky. The Russian goalkeeper received a barrage of 20 shots in the first 15 minutes of play.
“He gave us time to recover. Even though it took us half the game to get there, we knew he was there to make the save,” said Tkachuk.
However, Bobrovsky saw Jack Drury thwart him on his 21st shot, but it was Paul Morris’ turn to appeal the decision. Like Brind’Amour, Morris also won his case for allowing the Panthers to retreat to the locker room one net late after 20 minutes.
“You have to take advantage of it when the momentum is on your side. That’s what we haven’t been able to do yet. These are huge losses. It’s nothing new to us. We’ve been hit in the face over the past few years and we’ve always responded,” the Hurricanes coach admitted.
Morris’s squad seemed quite fresh in the middle of the period. Aleksandr Barkov took the opportunity to equalize with a great fake while alone against Ranta. Barkov made it look like he was going to shoot the ball through his legs, but instead came back from the backhand to shoot quickly to the side of the glove. The Panthers captain found the back of the net for the fourth time in the playoffs.
After a spirited start to the game, both teams closed out play in the second half. Bobrovsky and Raanta held out against each other’s net. After 60 minutes, Bobrovsky had 36 saves and Ranta made 21 saves. And for the second time in as many games, overtime was necessary in this series.
Quiet until then, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has found a pretty nasty way to get people talking about him. The former Lockers were ejected at the start of overtime for Josh Mahora’s hooking.
The Panthers have been shut down on two occasions in this game, finding the right moment to strike. Tkachuk completed a great passing game from Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett to score his third overtime goal in the series.
This isn’t the first time Brindlemore has trailed 2-0 in a series. A reporter asked him after the game if his experience in 2006 as a player when he came back against the Montreal Canadiens could be useful to his players.
“I don’t think so, it’s old news that the players don’t care about. We know it’s happened before. It’s boring, but we just have to focus on the next game,” said the coach.
The Panthers now have a perfect record of six overtime wins since the start of the playoffs. The series will move to Sunrise, with Game 3 of that series taking place Monday night.
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