RALEIGH, N.C. – It seems like Sebastian Aho’s shoulders look broader by the day.
They should as the 21-year old carried the Carolina Hurricanes to another victory, a 6-3 final over the Nashville Predators at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Stockpiling another four points on the season, scoring his second career hat trick, Aho along with Saku Maenalanen, Lucas Wallmark, and Justin Williams all managed to beat Nashville starting goaltender Pekka Rinne on 20 shots that he faced.
The win was Carolina’s seventh in its last eight played, and put them at 22-18-5 and three points out of a wildcard spot.
“A great group effort, everyone contributed tonight,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“That’s what we need.”
The Predators got caught on line changes, turned the puck over, didn’t gap up on the Hurricanes rush, and pretty much left Rinne out to dry.
As a result, they chased the game with incremental success in trying to pull back into it.
A fight between Aho’s linemate Micheal Ferland and Nashville’s Auston Watson near the mid-point of the opening period lit at fuse for the 16,437 in attendance as the Hurricanes forward landed a decisive second punch for a TKO decision in the tussle.
The energy eventually led to Aho’s opening goal with 4:16 remaining in the period.
“He set the tone,” Aho said.
“We were all fired up after that.
Ferland tallied two assists on Aho’s second and Williams’ fifth in as many games and pushed his season point total to 25 (13g, 12a).
Along with Ferland, Teuvo Teravainen quietly added to his overall scoring total (38 points – 10g, 18a), tallying assists on Aho’s second and third goals.
“It’s been a lot of positive things lately,” Teravainen said.
“Good things happen, makes more good things happen. It’s one of those things, so we keep building.”
Carolina’s net-front defense was non-existent on cross-crease passes and resulted in two goals from Filip Forsberg and a single from Colton Sissons that beat keeper Petr Mrazek and threatened to end his career six-game unbeaten stress against the Preds.
Leading 2-0 after the first period, and 5-2 after the second, Aho’s third of the night, a shorthanded empty-netter with 3:01 sealed the win on Mrazek’s 20-save effort – his ninth win of the season.
Scoring five goals in the Hurricanes’ past two games and standing behind a pile of hats while answering questions during the postgame scrum, Aho took it all in stride.
Even while teammate Jordan Martinook sang along with the music in the background, screaming A-ho!, A-ho!
“It’s gets a little bit easier when you score one,” Aho said smiling.
“You get some confidence and it was easier to score.
“Obviously I want to produce some points and help our team that way,” he concluded.
“At the same time, I want to be a versatile player, the guy who can play PK and PP in every situation.”
@pksport captures the moment as #Canes Sebastian Aho answers questions post-game behind a pile of hats collected from the ice following his hat trick finish in a 6-3 win over the #Preds. pic.twitter.com/MZhg1kusNS
— TriangleSportsNet (@TSportsNet) January 13, 2019
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport