RALEIGH, NC– Martin Neca never played in an outdoor game before Saturday, but he had no problem making an instant impact for the Carolina Hurricanes in one 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals in the 2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Necas ended with a goal and two assists, the first of which came on as a substitute Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s goal just 2:11 in the first period.
It was Necas’ first three-point game since November 4.
“It didn’t really matter if I scored or not, we got a huge win,” said Necas. “The fans were incredible and really enjoyed every second. So yes, it was a special night and of course I’m glad I scored the goal.”
Necas, who hasn’t scored in his last six games, leads the Hurricanes with 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 55 games this season.
“He looks like he’s been in the league forever,” said Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour. “It’s like I knew what he was made of and we all knew it was kind of there and now it’s really starting to show and it was great for him to do it on a big stage like this to show.”
(RELATED: Coverage of the 2023 NHL Stadium Series)
After Paul Stastny making it 2-0 at 5:47 of the second period, Necas extended the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-0 at 8:48 with a one-timer from the top of the left circle for a power play goal.
Shortly after, he worked a give-and-go in a 2-on-1 Teuvo Teravainenwho tapped Necas’ back pass into the open net to put it 4-0 at 11:17.
“I really felt the energy of the fans,” said Necas. “I didn’t feel tired at all out there trying to play the game we wanted to play. It was good.”
Video: [email protected]: Necas rips a PPG for a 3-0 lead in 2nd
As did Necas’ linemates Kotkaniemi and Teravainen, who each had a goal and an assist to win.
“It was something special,” said Teravainen. “Of course there was a bit of nervousness during the game but it was a great, great game to be a part of.”
Forward Jordan Martinookwho had one assist said that the Necas, Kotkaniemi and Teravainen lineup has played well all season.
“Yeah, they were great tonight,” he said. “Our top six is pretty incredible. So you put them out there, they’ll make things happen.”
Besides scoring, Necas also had a bit of fun during the game.
At one point he ran backwards towards the Capitals goalie Darcy Kumper and put the puck through his legs, but he shot wide of the net for what would have been a highlight reel goal.
“I should probably stop doing that,” he said. “But I really felt the energy of the fans.”
Video: Necas Ensures Hurricanes Stadium Series Victory
That energy was just one of the memories that will remain for Necas, who was one of 11 Hurricanes players who had never played outdoors in an NHL game before.
“Yeah, it was something we’ll all ever forget,” he said. “And of course when you win it feels a lot better. … Every second of that was kind of a time you enjoy and try to focus on the game but you still feel the fans and the energy. It was my first outdoor game and it was amazing.”