October 11, 2017 / 2:23 AM / 8 months ago

Milano leads Jackets past Hurricanes in OT

Milano leads Jackets past Hurricanes in OT

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sonny Milano insists he is trying to do enough just to retain a roster spot with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He looks like a keeper at this stage.

Milano scored his second goal of the game on a breakaway with 31 seconds remaining in overtime as the Blue Jackets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday night at PNC Arena.

“I’m just trying to stick here and prove myself as a two-way player,” Milano said. “I’m never safe, I don’t think.”

Milano, 21, tied a franchise record by scoring in each of the first three games of a season.

He was plugged into a spot on the fourth line for this game, then cranked up his production again anyway.

In overtime, Milano collected the puck after Carolina’s Sebastian Aho shot wide, racing to the other end to post his fourth goal of the season.

“The puck just kind of ended up on my stick,” Milano said of the sequence. “Just got on a breakaway and got a shot on net. ... I definitely had that backhand (shot) in mind.”

Milano, a left winger, earlier broke scoreless tie midway through the third period. However, Jeff Skinner countered for the Hurricanes for his first goal of the season.

Milano is the second player in franchise history to score goals in each of the team’s first three games of a season. He matched the feat first accomplished by Kristian Huselius at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

“I’m just trying to play hockey,” Milano said. “My line did a great job getting me the puck.”

Milano, playing in only his 10th NHL game, scored with 9:59 remaining in the third, retrieving the puck from behind the net and delivering a shot that bounced off Carolina goalie Scott Darling’s glove. Darling hadn’t recovered enough to face the delivery.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, who sent in the initial shot, and Nick Foligno, who won the faceoff, picked up assists on Milano’s first goal.

“Forget about the offense because we know that’s going to be there,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said of Milano. “I think he has really been consistent away from the puck, too. He gets the puck out, and that’s the most important part for his coach.”

Otherwise, it was stellar defensive effort from the Hurricanes.

“It was hard-fought,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “(Our back end) made sure we had a chance. We did a good job defensively, for sure.”

Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was within 85 seconds of recording his second shutout in as many outings until Skinner gloved a failed clearing attempt from Blue Jackets left winger Markus Hannikainen and then broke down the slot and scored an unassisted goal. The Hurricanes were using an extra skater at the time.

Bobrovsky, who delivered a shutout to open the season against the New York Islanders, finished with 37 saves for the Blue Jackets (2-1-0).

“It’s hard to get to the net,” Peters said. “It’s tough when their ‘D’ is as good as theirs was.”

Carolina (1-0-1) was aiming for its first 2-0-0 start to a season since October 2010.

Darling made 25 stops.

With an announced crowd of just 7,892 in the building, it was up to the teams to create energy, and that seemed to happen only in small doses.

Darling, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, got the start in both games of a season-opening home set before the Hurricanes head on the road.

Both teams had one power play in each of the first two periods, but the scoring chances were limited.

The teams combined for at least five goals in each of their first three meetings last season.

NOTES: Blue Jackets RW Josh Anderson played in his first game after starting the season with a condition stint with Cleveland of the American Hockey League. He signed a three-year contract last week. ... Columbus C Zac Dalpe, who was scratched for the first time this season Tuesday night, began his career with the Hurricanes, playing in 41 Carolina games across three seasons, most recently in 2012-13. ... Hurricanes D Trevor van Riemsdyk, who made his Carolina debut Saturday night, was scratched. He was being evaluated for a concussion. ... Columbus next plays Friday night at home against the New York Rangers. ... The Hurricanes won’t play another home game for two weeks, as they begin a four-game road stretch Saturday at Winnipeg.

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