Alexander Semin’s goal was pretty incredible.
Elias Lindholm’s first hat trick was pretty impressive.
Then there was the Carolina power play. On a day when the Canes allowed two power-play goals, they scored three times.
Those were the makings of the 7-4 comeback victory Sunday over the Edmonton Oilers in a free-wheeling game at PNC Arena.
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Canes coach Bill Peters didn’t like his team’s lackluster play Friday in a loss to the Minnesota Wild but was more than pleased Sunday. Even when the Canes trailed 3-0 nearly midway through the second period, he believed his team was skating well enough, competing hard enough and getting enough chances to break through against Oilers goalie Richard Bachman.
But no one was ready for how that first one would come.
Semin, stick-handling the puck through the slot, was tripped by Edmonton forward Rob Klinkhammer. Semin fell chest-down to the ice but somehow reached out, corralled the puck and whipped it back toward the net.
“I just shoot for the net and that was it,” Semin said. “I go down, I just see the puck and turn for the net.”
Just instinct? “I am playing hockey,” he said, smiling.
Just like that, Semin scored and it all turned around. The Canes scored six unanswered goals for the first time since March 2011.
Lindholm, who had two assists in a five-point game, picked up his first goal on a tip of a Ron Hainsey pass. Jeff Skinner then tied the score 3-3 in the second with a 5-on-3 power-play goal off an Eric Staal pass.
Andrej Nestrasil scored on a power-play shot from the slot early in the third, Skinner struck again on the power play and Lindholm connected again for a 6-3 lead.
Nugent-Hopkins, quick and dangerous all game, finished a hat trick of his own in the third, but Lindholm scored his third on a late empty-netter as Eric Staal tied a career high with his fourth assist.
Of Semin’s goal, Lindholm said, “That’s the kind you only see on the highlights and now we could watch one live here. It was pretty cool to see.”
Skinner, who has 18 goals for the season, was asked where that one might rank on a pure goal-scorer’s one-to-10 scale.
“That was pretty good. I don’t know, a 10?” he said with a grin.
Semin has had his struggles this season and had three goals and 15 points before Sunday. With a contract that pays him $7 million a year and has three years remaining on it, the Russian winger had become a player the Canes likely could not deal – without eating some of his salary – before the trade deadline this season and probably do not want to buy out after the season.
Instead, the Canes kept waiting for him to break out. On this day, he was the spark they needed.
Semin was called for a hooking penalty during the second period that led to Jordan Eberle’s power-play goal and 2-0 lead for the Oilers (18-37-11), the last-place team in the Western Conference. Peters didn’t like the call, and Semin responded with his mind-bending score, then later forcing a penalty that eventually set up the 5-on-3 opportunity.
“He had an impact on the game. He was a good hockey player today,” Peters said.
There was more good than bad in the game Sunday. Eric Staal won 20 of 23 faceoffs as the Canes had a 43-24 edge in the circle. Peters put together a checking line of center Jordan Staal with Nathan Gerbe and Nestrasil and liked their play for the most part in front of goalie Cam Ward, who faced just 20 shots.