With the hockey regular season running through April and 82 games determining the 16 playoff teams, a game in November is never a must win.
Yet, on Saturday inside PNC Arena, both Carolina and Pittsburgh desperately needed a victory. The Hurricanes were coming off of a disappointing home loss to Philadelphia, while the Penguins crawled back to over .500 before a defeat at the hands of New Jersey.
As the third period neared the midway point, it appeared Carolina was in great position to earn their 10th win of the season.
With 11:33 remaining, Andrei Svechnikov thought he had netted his first goal of the season and the Hurricanes thought they had earned a 3-1 lead.
Pittsburgh would use their coach’s challenge, where they were successful, as Martin Necas was inches offsides, negating the two score advantage.
With just a one goal lead, the Penguins snagged the momentum from Carolina less than a minute later, as Sidney Crosby’s second score of the game on a delayed penalty knotted the game at two-apiece.
Crosby did Crosby things in Raleigh, but fortunately for the Hurricanes, his two scores would be all Pittsburgh could muster.
As the veteran recorded two goals in the win, the young Seth Jarvis matched Crosby, scoring the game-winning and empty-net goal to seal the victory for Carolina.
Jaccob Slavin found Jarvis in front of the crease 12 minutes into the third frame, where he redirected the pass, beating Tristan Jarry to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead.
He would once again find the back of the net with 37.7 left to double up the Penguins and get back in the win column.
“It was nice to see us battle back. Things were positive and we never really lost hope,” said Jarvis. “That’s something that’s changed the last little while. The positivity on the bench has been good.”
Pittsburgh opened up the scoring in the first period, as Crosby’s first goal came following a tipped shot attempt from Jake Guentzel.
After taking the lead into the first intermission, the Penguins held the advantage for more than 13 minutes in the second period.
A beautiful passing sequence from Seth Jarvis to Teuvo Teravainen to Sebastian Aho saw Aho beat Jarry from the edge of the right circle.
Then, just 2:46 into the third period, Carolina tallied their first lead of the game. Two seconds after a slashing penalty on Guentzel expired, Brent Burns fired a slap shot from the top of the point past Jarry to secured the 2-1 advantage.
Both goaltenders turned in impressive performances on the night. Jarry stopped 30 of the Hurricanes’ 33 shot attempts, while Antti Raanta denied 26 of 28 shots from Pittsburgh.
For a long stretch, Jarry maintained the Penguins’ lead with solid play, and Raanta kept Carolina within striking distance.
After mentioning inconsistency and challenging his team following Wednesday’s performance, Rod Brind’Amour was pleased with the effort from his team.
“I thought it was a great game. Both teams played hard and I loved our game,” said Brind’Amour. “We didn’t have any lulls in it. We could’ve easily dropped our heads when we get a goal that’s called back.”
With three games remaining in the homestand, the Hurricanes have a chance to gain momentum and vault their way at or near the top of the Metro Division standings.
Another long break awaits, as they return to action on Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm at PNC Arena.