Hurricanes pick up 1st win of series as Staal’s OT marker vanquishes Lightning

Jordan Staal scored on a power play at 5:57 of overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night in Game 3 of the second-round series.

Staal deflected Sebastian Aho’s shot with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov serving a penalty for holding the stick to cut Tampa Bay’s series lead to 2-1.

Game 4 is Saturday Tampa.

Carolina coach Rob Brind’Amour changed goaltenders, opting for Petr Mrazek after Alex Nedeljkovic started the first eight games of the playoffs. Mrazek stopped 35 shots.

“He was good,” Brind’Amour said. “Did I expect him to be like that? I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest with you, he’d been out for so long. But he’s a battler.”

Brett Pesce and Aho also scored for Carolina.

WATCH | Staal’s OT goal lifts Canes over Lightning:

Carolina edges Tampa Bay 2-1 in OT with Jordan Staal’s winner and now trails series 2-1. 1:20

“Feels great obviously, but at the same time, it was only our first win in the series,” said Aho, who finished with three points. “We just have to keep going to Game 4 and just do it over and over again and trust our system. But it obviously feels good to win.”

Brayden Point and Alex Killorn had power-play goals for Tampa Bay, which outshot the Hurricanes 37-27.

“We did everything we wanted to do tonight except score one more goal than they did,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “A lot of the things we put in place the players implemented and I thought they did a hell of a job. We just came up one short.”

The Hurricanes did something they were unable to do in the opening two games on home ice — score first.

The first lead of the series for the Hurricanes came courtesy of Pesce, who one-timed a shot from above the right circle off a feed from Andrei Svechnikov at 5:15 of the second period. It’s the first time Carolina opened the scoring since Game 2 against the Nashville Predators in the opening round and the first lead for the Hurricanes since Game 4.

Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov skates back to the bench from the penalty box as the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate Jordan Staal’s OT winner. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

It also was the first 5-on-5 goal scored by Carolina in the series and the first one Tampa Bay had allowed since the second period of Game 5 against the Florida Panthers.

The Hurricanes built the lead on a well-executed set play as Jaccob Slavin sent a pass from inside his own zone up ice to Svechnikov, who one-touched a pass to a streaking Aho. The play sent Aho in alone for a breakaway to give Carolina a 2-0 lead at 7:40.

It didn’t take long for Tampa Bay to respond on a power play. At 8:57, a passing play from Steven Stamkos to Kucherov to Point cut the lead to 2-1.

The Tampa Bay power play went back to work again when Brady Skjei was whistled for hooking at 15:52 and again cashed in. Point gained the zone with speed and found Kucherov in the slot. After his initial chance was blocked, he recovered the puck and fed Killorn between the hashmarks for a quick rising sot over Mrazek at 16:18, the 11th power play goal scored by Tampa Bay in nine postseason games.

“That was a huge momentum shift for us in the game, being down 2-0 and getting two power play goals,” Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman said.

WATCH | Longtime producer John Shannon talks about tough replay decisions on live TV:

With the playoffs already seeing two players taken off the ice on stretchers, longtime producer John Shannon talks to Rob Pizzo about making tough replay decisions on live television. 10:29

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