DALLAS — It is only fitting that the matchup between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars, two teams atop their respective divisions who have similar styles in play, would yield the same exact ending in both of the games played head-to-head against the squads. For the Stars, unfortunately, Wednesday’s ending continued the same feeling of frustration all season long when it comes to overtime sessions.
Martin Necas scored 94 seconds into overtime to lift the Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory over the Stars inside American Airlines Center on Wednesday evening, Carolina’s third consecutive victory. Goalkeeper Antii Raanta, who came in to the game in the second period, shopped all 15 shots he faced in relief of an injured Frederik Andersen.
Carolina won the prior matchup between the teams back on December 17 in Raleigh, with Necas also scoring the overtime winner after the Stars had come back from a two-goal deficit in the third period. After carrying the puck out of the zone during as his team was in the midst of a line change, Necas reentered the zone and circled his way into the high slot before sending a wrist shot past the glove of Stars’ goalkeeper Jake Oettinger for his third game-winning goal this season.
“There was a little turn over by [the Stars] and they were [on the ice] for a little,” Necas said. “I won the puck, and I took it out the zone. There was a long change in overtime so I tried to keep the puck so they couldn’t change and make a couple of comebacks. I saw some space and tried it and luckily it went in.”
Sebastian Aho and Brent Burns also scored for Carolina, with Aho’s shorthanded tally opening the scoring at the 8:46 mark of the first. The Hurricanes have won five of their last six games on the heels of a four-game losing streak earlier in the month.
“The first two periods were great. We deserve better than the score,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “They kept going in the third, so we kind of felt like we had a couple bounces finally go our away as far as them not scoring. Overall, a great effort, and in overtime, a nice play by Martin Necas to win it for us. I love the way we competed all night.”
Dallas got first-period goals from Wyatt Johnston and Jason Robertson, both unassisted, to take the lead, both coming with Andersen in goal for Carolina. Raanta opened the second period in net as Andersen left with what was described as an upper-body injury. Raanta had not appeared in game since January 7, but looked far from rusty in thwarting every Stars opportunity on goal upon taking over in net.
“You try to work every day to practice to make sure that whenever it’s your turn, you’re ready to go,” Raanta said. “It’s always a little bit weird when you have to jump in there, but at least I had the intermission, so I was able to get focused and start doing my normal preparation. Then you just try to keep everything super simple and try to move and look at the puck and track. Do the normal stuff. Today went well, so I am happy to get the win in relief.”
Dallas’ struggles after regulation continue, as the Stars are now 3-9 in games that have gone into overtime, and have lost the last three games that have required an extra session.
“The guys are squeezing a little bit. They’re not complicated concepts: you want to hold onto possession, you want to be patient, you want to wait out the other team,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said. “We, for whatever reason, haven’t executed at that time in the game. The guys know it’s a bit of a confidence thing, you need one in overtime.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.