The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Saturday night, with Sebastian Aho scoring the game-winning goal 3:40 into overtime.
Aho scored the sole goal of the game by redirecting a rebound from Martin Necas’ shot into the net past New Jersey’s goalie Vitek Vanecek.
Aho praised Necas for his impressive move through the center and successful shot. Aho explained that the rebound landed right in front of him, and even though it was in midair, he was able to easily tap it into the goal.
Both teams struggled to score goals, as Vanecek (31 saves) and Carolina’s Pyotr Kochetkov (34 saves) both played exceptionally well as goalkeepers.
The Hurricanes have emerged victorious in five out of their last six matches, while the Devils have suffered defeat in seven out of their last 10 games.
Kochetkov prevented two goals in overtime, giving Aho the opportunity to secure the winning shot.
According to Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour, he was very skilled and made a significant impact on the game.
Vanecek’s strongest performance came in the third period when he stopped Jordan Martinook’s breakaway attempt at 11:20. Later, New Jersey successfully defended against an Ondrej Palat penalty.
Carolina reciprocated by escaping a penalty for high-sticking by Necas at 11:27 in the third period.
“We performed exceptionally in the hockey game,” stated New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff. “We created the necessary chances, but unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on them.”
Kochetkov made a strong comeback after being replaced in Thursday’s 5-2 victory against Colorado. He allowed two goals in a quick 5-second period towards the end of the first period and was subsequently replaced by Antti Raanta.
Raanta suffered a lower-body injury in his relief effort and Brind’Amour said Saturday that Raanta would be out a “couple of weeks.” Carolina is already missing No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, who has been out with a blood-clotting issue since early November.
According to Brind’Amour, Kochetkov, the 24-year-old Russian who achieved his second shutout of the season, is still in the process of learning.
“It’s the most challenging role in sports,” expressed Brind’Amour. “He’s still acquiring knowledge and we’re only on the cusp of what he can achieve.”
Kochetkov played in the victory against the Avalanche on Thursday and had a strong performance on Saturday. He made a crucial save within the first two minutes of the game, stopping Nico Hischier’s point-blank power-play shot.
Kochetkov made a clever glove stop on a shot by Erik Haula during the second period, seven minutes in.
The Hurricanes are facing challenges in maintaining a strong group of goalkeepers, but their offense received a boost with the comeback of player Andrei Svechnikov. He had been sidelined since January 21 due to an upper-body injury, but returned to the ice with 30 points in 30 games this season. He had missed the last six games prior to his return.
Svechnikov’s comeback did not lead to an increase in shots for the Carolina offense. In the past 13 games, the Hurricanes have only been outshot three times, and this game against the Devils is the second instance within that time frame.
After the victory, the Hurricanes now have a record of 5 wins, 0 losses, and 3 ties when sporting their Hartford Whalers throwback jerseys.
The Devils will be playing against Seattle on Monday evening.
The Dallas Hurricanes will be playing on Tuesday evening.
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