The Carolina Hurricanes were dead in the desert.
Or so it seemed..
Trailing 3-0 after a miserable first period Friday against the Arizona Coyotes, the Canes regrouped to earn a tie in regulation and force overtime. They didn’t win the road game, Michael Grabner scoring for the Coyotes in overtime for a 4-3 victory, but pulled out a point at Gila River Arena.
The Canes’ Sebastian Aho finished the game without a point or assist for the first time this season. The center’s 12-game point streak to start the season was a franchise record, and assists in each of the first 12 games had tied an NHL record held by Wayne Gretzky and Ken Linseman.
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The first period arguably was the worst of the season for the Canes (6-5-2). It would be easy to blame the cross-country flight on Thursday for some of the sluggishness, but the Canes again were undone by some horrible special teams play.
Brad Richardson scored shorthanded for the Coyotes, who have a NHL-high seven shorties this season. Brendan Perlini scored on the power play, which had been a weakness for Arizona. Nick Cousins added an even-strength score -- the three goals coming in a span of 3:45 -- and Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour had some decisions to make.
Brind’Amour stuck with goalie Petr Mrazek but shook up his lines, replacing Teuvo Teravainen with Andrei Svechnikov on Aho’s line and moving Brock McGinn to Jordan Staal’s line, replacing Warren Foegele.
Jordan Martinook, playing against his former team, got the Canes on the board in the second when Justin Faulk’s shot in tight glanced off Martinook’s skate and past goalie Antti Raanta. It was 3-1 after two and the Canes kept pushing in the third.
Svechnikov scored his third of the season and Staal his fifth to tie the score. The Canes had a late power play but couldn’t take the lead.
“We’ve got to be ready to start that game and can’t give ourselves that hole we have to dig out of,” Martinook said. “On the other side of it, it just shows the attitude in this room. We just won’t quit and just fight until that very last second, and obviously, one point is huge.”
In overtime, Canes defenseman Brett Pesce nearly ended it with a backhander that Raanta fought off before Grabner beat Teravainen down the ice to knock in a pass from Clayton Keller to win it at 1:12 of overtime.
“I felt like we actually came out okay in the first five or six minutes and then obviously the short-handed goal, just unacceptable,” Brind’Amour said. “It just put us on our heels and we just didn’t recover in the first.
“Then we had a little wake-up call between periods and obviously we got to our game and their goalie made some incredible saves. I give our guys credit that even then, we just kept going and actually had a pretty good chance in overtime to win it. It was a pretty good 50-minute effort. Unfortunately, we know we need to play the whole game.”
The Canes finish off a back-to-back Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights and Brind’Amour said he doubted he would revert back to the lines he stuck with much of the first 12 games.
“It was time to shake it up and again, I give the guys credit for at least answering the bell after they had been knocked out,” he said. “We obviously have some areas we have to shore up and figure out.”
The Coyotes now have won five straight games for the first time since 2013, but as Richardson put it, “We held on for dear life and got it to overtime and then won.”