RALEIGH — A frequently bouncing puck courtesy of the record-breaking North Carolina heat, a goal horn that needed an oiling up like the Tin Man, and a third-period deficit — none were enough to deny the Carolina Hurricanes on opening night.
Erik Haula got his first goal with the Hurricanes to tie the game 6:55 into the third period, and Dougie Hamilton had two assists and scored the lone shootout goal Thursday as Carolina knocked off Montreal 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,680 at PNC Arena.
Petr Mrazek, firmly entrenched as Carolina’s No. 1 goalie, matched all-world net mind Carey Price for three periods and overtime, then stopped Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Ryan Suzuki in the shootout. Hamilton, shooting first for the Hurricanes, got the only goal, waiting out Price and sliding the puck under the Montreal goalie.
“You’re going against the best goalie in the world, so you just kind of do whatever and was happy to see it go in,” Hamilton said.
And the move?
“I don’t know,” he added. “My brain just shuts off and that’s what happens.”
After staking themselves to a 2-0 lead, the Hurricanes gave up three second-period goals in less than 12½ minutes and entered the third trailing by one. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, surely, wanted to shut off whatever his team was thinking for the first 40 minutes.
“We didn’t really play our game for two periods,” Brind’Amour said after the win. “I give the other team a ton of credit. … We got fortunate — I think Petr made some great saves to keep us in there.”
Carolina then broke through in the third.
Haula tied it 6:55 into the final frame on the continuation of a power play. Moments after he pushed a shot wide of an open cage, he tapped in a loose puck following a Hamilton shot for his first goal since Nov. 1.
“I feel like I was a little bit rusty,” said Haula, who suffered a season-ending injury in Vegas’ 15th game last year and was traded to Carolina in the offseason. “But third time was a charm, I think. I had a couple good looks. It feels good to get on the board right away, and it feels good to get a big win on a new team.”
The overtime — the fourth straight to open a season for the Hurricanes — was mostly uneventful, with the best chances coming from Montreal when Carolina’s Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin got stuck on the ice — Slavin for a whopping 2:26 — for a prolonged shift in their own end.
But Carolina survived, and Mrazek and Hamilton led them to two points.
It initially looked like it might an easy night, with the Hurricanes coming out of the gate fast and getting on the board first, and it was the fourth line who gave them early momentum.
Carolina center Lucas Wallmark won a faceoff cleanly back to the Brett Pesce, who fired a quick shot that Wallmark redirected. Price (40 saves) made the initial stop, but Wallmark got his own rebound and knocked it in to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 17:19 of the opening period. It was followed by a muffled wail from the goal horn, awakening from a 4½-month slumber.
Then the Hurricanes’ power play — asleep at the wheel most of last season — got 2019-20 started off on the right foot. After Staal hit the post off a Martin Necas feed, Necas got his second career goal.
The 20-year-old, who had not yet gone for a line change with the rest of the top power play unit, got to the front of the net and tipped a Hamilton shot past Price to put Carolina up 2-0 just 2:19 into the second period.
But Montreal not only dug out of its hole, it climbed over the Hurricanes in the second.
Less than two minutes after Necas’ goal, Tomas Tatar knocked down a penalty kill clearing attempt by Carolina’s Warren Foegele and fired a shot from the slot that trickled through Mrazek and made it 2-1.
Sixty-four seconds later, Montreal benefited from a bad Hurricanes line change and Jesperi Kotkaniemi tied the game.
The Canadiens then seized the lead with under four minutes left in the second, counter-attacking the Hurricanes with a rush that saw Byron feed Jordan Weal at 16:36 of the middle frame to give Montreal its first lead.
The performance left Brind’Amour knowing there’s plenty of work to be done.
“It’s going to take a little time here to jell as a group,” he said, “as a D group, as a forward group, as a whole group. A team. That’s clear tonight.”
That said, two points are two points.
“The first win is, I think, always the hardest one,” Mrazek said. “So I’m really happy that we got one today.”
NOTES: Ryan Dzingel, playing his first game with the Hurricanes after signing a two-year contract as a free agent in the offseason, tried to literally knock off the rust, hitting the crossbar once and the post at least two more times. … Carolina outshot Montreal 43-36, including putting up 19 shots in the third. … Slavin tied Staal for the most hits by a Hurricanes player with five. … Montreal captain Shea Weber played a game-high 24:11, but he managed just one shot attempt, which was blocked. … Brothers Haydn and Cale Fleury played against each other, with Montreal’s Cale making his NHL debut. He played 14:52 to Haydn’s 12:11. … Suzuki, the brother of Hurricanes 2019 first-round pick Ryan Suzuki, also made his NHL debut. He finished with two shots on goal in 13:39 of ice time. … The Hurricanes brought back the Storm Surge for their season-opening win, mimicking the first Storm Surge from last season with a skate from the far blue line and jump into the boards.