RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)Dougie Hamilton scored on a breakaway with 52.1 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic picked up the assist on the winning play as the Central Division-leading Hurricanes extended their points streak to 10 games.
Just as quickly as Hamilton converted for the goal, he raced toward the other end of the ice to congratulate Nedeljkovic for his heads-up pass.
”I thought of Ned right away,” Hamilton said.
The sequence further cemented Nedeljkovic’s growing reputation as a crafty puck-handler.
”It’s something I enjoy doing,” he said. ”It was nice to be able to get one there in overtime when things are a little bit more open and we were able to capitalize on it.”
Nedeljkovic began the breakout by sending a pass off the boards. Hamilton took the puck the rest of the way. The assist gave him Nedeljkovic his first point in 27 career games.
”I had a pretty idea where (Hamilton) was,” Nedeljkovic said. ”I peeked up and saw a red jersey behind their two guys. . Dougie made a great move to finish it.”
Teuvo Teravainen scored earlier for the Hurricanes. Hamilton, a defenseman, also had a game-winning goal Feb. 7 at Columbus. It was the sixth overtime goal in his career.
Nedeljkovic, who has played in five of Carolina’s last seven games, made 31 saves to improve his record to 14-4-3.
Max Domi scored three minutes into the game for the last-place Blue Jackets.
Elvis Merzlikins stopped 32 shots, but he wasn’t able to replicate his 41-save outing in a shutout in Columbus’ previous game.
”We played really good defensively.” Merzlikins said. ”I wasn’t that lucky tonight to stop all of them.”
Teravainen tied the game with a laser-like shot with 1:16 remaining in the opening period.
The Hurricanes killed off Columbus’ 5-on-3 power play in the third period.
Four of the last five meetings between the teams weren’t decided in regulation.
NO GIFTS, PLEASE
Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and left winger Max McCormick both had birthdays Saturday. So they were in NHL regular-season games on their birthday for the first time, though Slavin played in a 2019 playoff game on his birthday.
Slavin made a diving block of Emil Bemstrom’s shot shortly after the midway mark of the first period, preventing the Blue Jackets from taking a two-goal lead. It was an otherwise open net for Bemstrom.
”I had to do something about it,” Slavin said. ”Thankfully, I got a piece of it.”
Nedeljkovic said he appreciated Slavin’s alert recovery.
”He’s just sells out and makes an unbelievable save,” Nedeljkovic said. ”Those are the kind of guys you need to win and to go far.”
It marked the first time in more than 18 years that two Hurricanes played on their birthdays in the same NHL game. The previous occasion came when Aaron Ward and Jeff Heerema did so Jan. 17, 2003, in a loss to the New Jersey Devils.
FROM DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
By landing on the score sheet, Nedeljkovic produced the first assist for a Carolina goalie in more than two years.
”(His) puck-moving ability is one of the best in the league,” Slavin said. ”It shows right there with the overtime assist.”
The last point for a Hurricanes goalie came in March 2019 when Petr Mrazek notched an assist.
ROAD ENDS HERE
This marked the final road game of the season for the Blue Jackets, who have four home games remaining.
Columbus is 8-1-1 in its last 10 road finales.
But it has largely been difficult away from home this season. The Blue Jackets dropped 10 straight road games, going 0-8-2 in those.
Saturday night’s game might have been the most encouraging of those outings for Columbus.
”I thought we played really well,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ”I thought we played with discipline. We were simple.”
For the season, Columbus ended up 7-17-4 in road games. Two of the wins came in Raleigh, one in overtime and the other in a shootout.
Blue Jackets: Columbus returns home for games Monday and Wednesday vs. Nashville.
Hurricanes: Carolina takes on Chicago for the first of three straight meetings in Raleigh.