SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Anton Khudobin found the perfect way to celebrate his new contract.
Khudobin made 35 saves just hours after signing his two-year extension and got the win when Jay Harrison scored with 41.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes their first victory since the Olympic break, 3-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
”That was pretty exciting,” Khudobin said. ”There were great feelings for me after since we got the win. They were shooting a lot of pucks and they drove hard a lot. I just had to keep focusing and figure out what I can do.”
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Jiri Tlusty and Elias Lindholm also scored for the Hurricanes, who lost the first four games since the Olympics before capping their five-game road trip with a win.
Carolina also lost its final game before the break and has fallen to 13th place in the Eastern Conference – six points out of the final playoff spot.
”Obviously the last few games haven’t been pretty,” center Jordan Staal said. ”You could tell we started moving the puck and just playing with a little bit of swagger, a little bit of confidence. You can tell when we’re moving the puck that we look like a fast team and we are a fast team.”
Marty Havlat and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, who lost in their first home game since Feb. 7.
Alex Stalock made 32 saves in his first back-to-back starts of the season, but ended up with the loss when he couldn’t stop Harrison’s shot after a scramble in front of the net.
”They got the bounce and it ended up on their tape and we didn’t have a guy there,” Stalock said. ”We had our own chances. I have to stay sharp, make saves and give the team a chance.”
Both teams had chances early in overtime before the Hurricanes capitalized in the final minute on a scramble in front of Stalock. Lindholm took possession of a blocked shot and slid a backhand pass through the crease to Harrison, who knocked in the winner for Carolina’s fourth straight victory in this series.
It was just the third goal of the season for Harrison and his second career overtime winner.
”It was a real heads-up play made by Lindholm to put it in the open space where I was,” he said. ”I had a pretty easy task of just banging it in.”
The Hurricanes tied the game early in the second period when Eric Staal found Lindholm alone in the slot with a pass from behind the net for a one-timer.
The Sharks kept the puck in Carolina’s defensive zone for much of the second half of the game, but couldn’t get another shot past Khudobin, who stopped San Jose’s final 26 shots to show why the team rewarded him with the $4.5 million deal earlier in the day.
”He came up with big saves and gave us a chance to hang on there and for us to get the win in overtime,” coach Kirk Muller said. ”He made some big saves at the right time in that third period.”
Carolina struck first when Tlusty took a pass from Alexander Semin, split defenseman Jason Demers and Scott Hannan and skated in alone on Stalock before beating him with a backhand shot.
Scoring first has been a good omen this season for the Hurricanes, who have won more than three-quarters of their games after getting the opening goal. But this lead was short-lived when Khudobin allowed a big rebound on a shot by Tyler Kennedy. Havlat knocked it in while falling to the ice for the equalizer.
The Sharks took advantage of another misplay from Khudobin to take the lead with 28 seconds left in the period. James Sheppard took the puck away from the goalie behind the net and sent a backhand pass in the slot to Raffi Torres, who teed up Burns for his first goal in 20 games to make it 2-1.
”It was very encouraging,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”Now the monkey is off his back maybe he can get back to relaxing and just play the way he can.”
NOTES: Carolina D Andrej Sekera had two assists and has points in all five games since the Olympic break. … The Hurricanes were without D Justin Faulk, who suffered an upper-body injury on Sunday in Anaheim. … The Sharks honored Olympians Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Antti Niemi with a video board tribute in the first period.