Hurricanes edge Predators in shootout
RALEIGH, N.C. — Carolina Hurricanes linemates Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen have been among the hottest players in the NHL during the past week or so.
Their hot streaks carried into the shootout portion of Sunday afternoon’s game.
The Hurricanes were perfect in the shootout, with Aho and Teravainen converting to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at PNC Arena.
Sensing Teravainen’s soaring confidence after being named a recent First Star of the Week in the NHL, Carolina coach Bill Peters figured it was appropriate to make sure the left winger had a chance in the shootout.
“His compete level has improved,” Peters said after Teravainen clinched the outcome.
Aho had a recent five-game goals streak, so he had been feeling good with the stick as well.
Peters said he was assured by Aho and Teravainen, both players from Finland, that they had a good track record against Predators goalie Juuse Saros, who’s also Finnish.
“They know Saros. That’s either a disadvantage or an advantage,” Peters said, then referring to the brief dialogue with his players on the subject. “There was a few more adjectives going back and forth.”
It didn’t always go so smooth for the Hurricanes.
Craig Smith had tied the game for Nashville with 8:45 remaining in the third period.
Carolina’s Justin Williams scored on a third-period power play to put the Hurricanes ahead with 14:11 left.
The Hurricanes killed off an overtime power play for Nashville. Later, Carolina had the final 19.2 seconds of the extra session with a man advantage but didn’t manage a shot.
Two blocked shots by Carolina left winger Joakim Nordstrom during Nashville’s overtime power play proved to be inspirational.
“Nothing was bigger than Nordstrom blocking those two bombs on the power plays,” Williams said.
Nordstrom said that’s part of his job description.
“It hurts a whole lot more to see the puck go in the net,” he said.
Josh Jooris, who didn’t play in the previous game, and Victor Rask also scored for Carolina, which had lost its two previous games. Rask assisted on Williams’ goal for only his third assist of the season.
The Hurricanes (10-8-4) were denied on their first power play of the third period before Williams cashed in the next time after a delay of game penalty on the Predators, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Viktor Arvidsson and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville. In the shootout, Kyle Turris and Filip Forsberg failed on their attempts.
Saros, normally the backup goalie, stopped 33 shots.
Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling made 32 saves.
“A high-end game,” Peters said. “I think it might have been the best game we’ve been involved in all year between both teams.”
Nashville (14-6-3) has points in 10 of its last 11 games.
“I thought they were quicker than us in the first period. I thought the second and third, we played better,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “(We) had our looks and had our chances.”
Jooris opened the scoring in the first period by breaking free of the Nashville defense, with his shot partially blocked by Saros before it trickled across the line.
Later in the period, Arvidsson answered with a nifty move around Carolina defenseman Noah Hanifin for a shot to beat Darling.
Nashville scored on its only power-play chance in regulation, with Ekholm’s shot going off Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce’s stick. Ekholm has three multi-point outings in the last seven games.
Rask, back on the ice for the second game following a two-game benching, converted on a net-side rebound. He didn’t have a point in his previous eight games.
“It felt good last game and this game,” Rask said. “I’m just happy to get a goal.”
Saros played for the first time since Nov. 4.
“There’s a lot going on out there in front of him, so I thought he played really well,” Laviolette said. “For me, he made big saves in there.”
NOTES: The Hurricanes are 8-1-1 in the 10 games in which they’ve scored first. ... RW Viktor Arvidsson, who tallied Nashville’s first goal Sunday, had his first career goal against Carolina (coming on Oct. 8, 2015). ... C Frederick Gaudreau was in the Nashville lineup for the second time in three games since a recall from the minor leagues. RW Miikka Salomaki was scratched for the first time since Nov. 3. ... Fathers of Predators players were on this trip. ... Nashville begins a four-game homestand Tuesday night against Chicago. ... The Hurricanes play their next two games on the road, beginning Tuesday night at Columbus.