Phil Di Giuseppe stretched his arms wide, letting out a loud, almost primal scream that perhaps only sudden victory can bring.
The Carolina Hurricanes forward had just scored in overtime Sunday, in a game the Canes badly needed to win. Making the the most of his opportunity, Di Giuseppe drilled a shot past Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop at 1:26 of OT for a 1-0 victory.
Goalie Cam Ward again was flawless in net for the Canes, making 30 saves in his second shutout of the season. Bishop was nearly as good for the Lightning, stopping 29 of 30 shots, and Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper believed he could have made his 30th on Di Giuseppe.
“It was 100 percent goaltender interference,” Cooper said. “His stick was kicked and he was unable to make a save. I’m blown away. I’m mystified.”
After a review, the ruling was incidental contact by the Canes’ Viktor Stalberg and a good goal, Di Giuseppe’s first of the season. The Canes, again playing without injured forwards Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm, had a sixth straight win at PNC Arena and their first victory in a three-on-three overtime period this season.
“It’s a good feeling,” Canes forward Jeff Skinner said. “We’ve been in a lot of those games. It’s not a good feeling when you can’t seem to find that one play to put you over the edge.”
The Canes’ penalty-killing, ranked No. 1 in the NHL, was perfect again. Carolina killed off five penalties — two in the third period, when Tampa Bay had 21 seconds of a 5-on-3 — as Ward stopped seven power-play shots.
The Canes began the overtime with forwards Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, and defenseman Jaccob Slavin. Then in came Di Giuseppe, a winger, with Stalberg and defenseman Ron Hainsey.
Di Giuseppe delivered, taking a pass from Stalberg, settling the puck and scoring from the right circle as Stalberg went to the front of the net.
“Just trying to get the puck to the net,” Di Giuseppe said.
Di Giuseppe tried to do that late in regulation. He was pulled down trying to take the puck to the net, got back to his feet and then nearly scored, staring at an open net but unable to control a loose puck.
“I was kind of kicking myself on the bench after that,” he said, smiling. “But when I saw it go in in OT, it was all worth it.”
Di Giuseppe was recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL on Nov. 28, when Staal was placed on injured reserve with a concussion. With Staal and Lindholm close to returning, he may be headed back to Charlotte, but with his second career game-winner on his NHL resume.
The Canes (10-10-5), winless in three road games before Sunday, would not have made it to overtime without more aggressive, effective penalty killing, without Ward continuing some of the best play of his career.
Ward earned his 25th career shutout by stopping 13 shots in the third period and another in overtime. Ward did not play Saturday, when Michael Leighton started the 4-2 road loss to the New York Rangers, but looked fresh and quick Sunday after the day off.
“He’s been, without question, tremendous,” Hainsey said.
It helped that the Lightning (14-11-2) did not have injured forward Steven Stamkos in the lineup. Also missing was injured forwards Ryan Callahan and Jonathan Drouin, and defenseman Jason Garrison.
Nor did it hurt the Canes that the Lightning played Saturday night. Tampa Bay topped the Washington Capitals 2-1 in a shootout, then flew to Raleigh.
The Canes had some head-scratching chances in regulation. Skinner got off a shot early in the second that Bishop somehow stopped with his mask at the post, the puck then falling inside the back of Bishop’s jersey.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen that happen, ever,” Skinner said.
But Di Giuseppe finally found a way to get a puck past Bishop and into the back of the net.