The Carolina Hurricanes say they like three-on-three overtime, that they like the quick, helter-skelter pace of what center Jordan Staal calls “shinny-ish hockey.”
“It’s a fun part of the game,” center Victor Rask said. “Unfortunately we haven’t gotten any wins in it this year. We need to find a way to get those points.”
The Canes have lost all three overtime games this season after the 2-1 loss Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. Add in their 8-11 record last year in games decided in the five-minute overtimes and that’s 14 games where the other team grabbed the extra point.
Do the Canes feel snakebit in overtime?
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“That could be part of it, one word you can use,” Staal said.
Is it a matter of confidence?
“Confidence, you can probably use all those kinds of words,” Staal said.
The Canes’ 16 losses last season in overtime or shootouts — they were 2-5 in shootouts — were the most in the NHL and far too many points left on the table. Now, another three.
“I think we’re close,” Staal said. “I don’t think we’re playing them like our record shows. Hopefully if we keep working at it, it will turn in our favor.”
The addition of skilled forwards such as Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho this season give the Canes other options for overtime, when there’s a lot of open ice.
“When you have that much room, the skill and the speed really comes out and it makes for exciting hockey,” Staal said.
In overtimes, faceoffs are even more important and puck possession precious. It can be a game of keep-away.
“You want to have the puck all the time,” Rask said. “It’s not too easy to defend. At the same time, when you get the puck you need do something as well. There’s only three guys out there. There’s a lot of room to skate and make plays. You need to shoot wisely.”
Take the wrong shot from the wrong spot on the ice and it can quickly lead to an odd-man rush in the other direction — a goalie’s nightmare.
“There’s a great chance at one end, a Grade A, and then it goes down the other way and all of a sudden it’s in the net,” Canes coach Bill Peters said.
The Canes lost the season opener 5-4 in overtime to the Winnipeg Jets after leading 4-1 with 15 minutes left in regulation. Jets forward Blake Wheeler pawed the puck out of the air in the neutral zone and passed to Mark Scheifele for the score.
In the next game, against Vancouver, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner came out from behind the Canucks net with the puck, looking to shoot, but fell in the slot. The Canucks quickly transitioned and Brandon Sutter scored.
Against Ottawa, Rask won a draw in the defensive zone almost three minutes into overtime. Defenseman Jaccob Slavin, behind the goal line, hard-rimmed a pass along the boards to Elias Lindholm in the neutral zone, but the puck got past Lindholm.
Rask said it was not a set play to try and free Lindholm for a scoring chance. Instead, it was a turnover and the Sens won moments later on a Kyle Turris shot.
“We have to have a little more ability to finish,” Peters said. “You have to have that ability as a player to be a game changer (and) when you get that opportunity change the game.”
Peters began the overtime with Skinner, Rask and Slavin. He then inserted Staal, Lindholm and defenseman Ron Hainsey, then Aho and defensemen Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin.
Lindholm had the puck in the slot early in the OT and appeared to be free for an open shot. Sens defenseman Mike Hoffman, trailing Lindholm, went stick on stick and also may have gotten Lindholm on the glove.
“I believe we have a good skilled team that can win those three-on-threes, but we need to find a way to do it,” Rask said. “We need to have some success.”