By Bruce Bullington
Make sure you check out the highlights at the end of this story. This was an amazing game.
Through the first two nights of the NHL season, the 2008-09 version of the Carolina Hurricanes is bearing a striking resemblance to the one that one the Stanley Cup in 2006.
Down 3-0 going into the final minute of the 2nd period, Rod Brindâ€™Amour scored a power play goal on a tip-in on a shot from Joni Pitkanen. From there the Hurricanes dominated the 3rd period, tying the game on goals from Matt Cullen and Eric Staal.
With less than 30 seconds left in overtime, Ray Whitney brought the puck down the ice with Staal on a 2-on-1. Whitney faked a slap-shot and passed it to Staal streaking down the left wing.
Staal settled the puck before firing it past Tampa net minder Mike Smith, giving the Canes a 4-3 victory in Tampa on Saturday night.
The 2006 Hurricanes made their living from coming behind, and this yearâ€™s team has now done it twice in two nights. On Friday at the RBC Center against the Panthers, the Canes were down 2-0 in the first but rallied to win 6-4.
In the debut of Hurricanes goalie Michael Leighton, the Lightning jumped on top midway through the 1st on a goal from former Hurricane Mark Recchi and added a power play tally from Janne Niskala. When Vincent Lecavalier scored midway through the 2nd to make it 3-0, it looked bleak for the Canes.
But goals at the ends of periods are big momentum shifts, and the Brindâ€™Amour goal with :09 left in the 2nd gave the Canes life.
After Cullen pulled the Hurricanes to within one, the Canes put together an incredible shift, cycling the puck for almost 50 seconds before Staal finally beat Smith to the short side from the right circle for his first goal of the year.
Although the Hurricanes had to kill a delay of game penalty in the final two minutes of regulation, the Lightning couldnâ€™t generate any serious scoring chances, getting outshot 20-2 in the gameâ€™s final period. They did squeeze off two more before Staalâ€™s winner.
Click on the link below for highlights of the game.