RALEIGH — Petr Mrazek and the Hurricanes were on the canvas in a tight game with the visiting Sharks, but managed to pick themselves up and walk away with two points.
Mrazek overcame a second-period punch from San Jose’s Joe Thornton, and Andrei Svechnikov scored the lone goal among the six shooters for a 3-2 win in front of 14,275 Thursday at PNC Arena.
“I like shootouts — it’s fun,” said Mrazek, who stopped all three shooters and is now 16-6 in his career in the shootout. “The fans enjoy it, and for the goalies, I think it’s fun as well. … I like the battle.”
It wasn’t the only battle for Mrazek on the night.
Thornton, 40 but still feisty, took a late poke at Mrazek when he had the puck frozen in the second period that led to the Carolina goalie wildly swinging his stick — and missing — toward the Sharks legend. Thornton took exception, knocking Mrazek to the ice with a punch to the head.
Both were given penalties — Thornton four minutes and Mrazek two — and the tone was set for a tense final 27 minutes.
“It was pretty stressful coaching it, I can tell you that,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Post-altercation, Mrazek gave up the tying goal at 19:42 of the second period on a Logan Couture point shot that made it to the net through a maze of players to tie the game at 2 heading into the third.
Did Thornton — who jawed at Mrazek the rest of the game and even on the way to the locker room after the second — succeed in getting the Carolina goalie off his game?
“To be honest, it’s even better,” Mrazek (28 saves) said. “You feel like you’re in the game and you want to make saves for the guys and get the win.”
And he did, settling in after the Sharks and Hurricanes went back and forth jockeying for control of the game in the opening two periods.
The Hurricanes grabbed the lead in the first minute.
Carolina forward Warren Foegele pressured Sharks defenseman Brent Burns in the San Jose end and stole the puck. Foegele then quickly found Svechnikov alone in the slot, and the Hurricanes’ top scorer lifted a backhand over Aaron Dell (27 saves) to give Carolina a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game.
“He did a great forecheck and he just give it to me in the slot and I just kind of closed my eyes and shoot,” said Svechnikov, who had his 11th multipoint game of the season and reached the 30-point plateau — which took him 69 games last season — in just 28 games and 50 seconds.
“He’s tough to handle, and I think he’s still just scratching the surface,” Brind’Amour said. “I think there’s another level for him.”
The Sharks tied the game just past the 7-minute mark.
The Hurricanes failed to clear the puck and Sharks graybeard Joe Thornton waited out Carolina defenseman Haydn Fleury and found Marcus Sorenson — who beat Jake Gardiner to the front of the net — on the back door to tie the game 1-1.
But Gardiner — who was also victimized on Boston’s game-winning goal Tuesday — got some redemption at the game’s midway point.
Gardiner jumped into the play and executed a perfect give-and-go with Foegele, with the Carolina defenseman scoring his second goal of the year at 10:12 of the middle frame to restore the Hurricanes’ lead at 2-1.
“Originally, I was going to one-time the puck, but it wasn’t exactly in my wheelhouse,” Gardiner said. “So I gave it back to (Foegele) and he made a great pass back.”
Brind’Amour has been patient with Gardiner, whose struggles to put up points have been compounded by defensive miscues.
“I hope it makes him feel relaxed and go play the way we’re all hoping or thinking he’s capable of,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s jumping in the rush there at the right time, making a nice outlet pass and then, obviously, finishing. He felt it the other night (against Boston), and it was nice for him to bounce back.”
Gardiner didn’t shy away from talking about his struggles.
“It’s been tough lately,” said the defenseman, who signed a four-year, $16.2 million contract in the offseason. “Just got to stick with it and eventually it will go my way.
“That was good tonight.”
Notes: Neither team converted on the power play, with Carolina going 0-for-3 and San Jose finishing 0-for-2. … Jordan Staal won just 8 of 25 faceoffs, while Sebastian Aho was even worse at 2 of 14. The Sharks won 40 of the game’s 60 draws. … Patrick Marleau, acquired by the Hurricanes from Toronto along with a conditional first-round pick during the offseason, was bought out by Carolina and later returned to San Jose. He finished with no shots on goal in 16:41 and minus-2 against his (kind of) former team. … Mrazek’s penalty was his first of the season. He had a career-high 6 PIMs last year but just four total prior to that in his career. … Carolina outshot San Jose 6-2 in overtime.