R.L. Bynum, Correspondent
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the Carolina Hurricanes to shake away their recent frustrations and that snakebit feeling, they needed their top two players to play like it.
They badly also needed an elusive lucky bounce and for no panic when they fell behind by two goals.
All of that came together nicely on a nostalgic evening in classic uniforms on Whalers Night to give Hartford, er, Carolina the needed boost.
The Canes surged with four consecutive goals to a huge 5–3 victory Sunday over the Boston Bruins.
“The guys really dug in and they didn’t hang their heads and just kept at it and we got a break,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Center Sebastian Aho and winger Teuvo Teravainen — the team’s top point scorers — did all of that by playing on the top line and the penalty kill to factor in on all but one of the Canes’ five goals.
Both had two goals (one short-handed) and two assists to torment Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who gave up five goals for only the second time this season.
Aho and Teravainen each also created a turnover that led to a goal for the other, and have now notched a point on the same goal 25 times this season.
“Sometimes it just goes like that,” said Aho, who has team-high totals of 14 goals and 24 assists on the season.
“We got the lucky bounce in the first period and got rolling. That’s sometimes all you need — a lucky bounce. We haven’t got those bounces lately, so it was nice to see that go in.”
— NHL (@NHL) December 24, 2018
For a while, ominous déjà vu seemed to be setting in.
Just after coming up empty with an extended power play, including a minute of a 5-on-3 advantage, the Bruins took a 2-0 first-period lead.
Instead of the Canes panicking as they did in the previous two games, they came back strong and fought their way to a big win.
“Well, it’s natural to kind of go, ‘Oh, no, here we go again,’ because that’s what’s happened and the 5-on-3 was fine,” Brind’Amour said.
“We got some great looks and moved around right. We got the open shot … a one-timer from 30 feet out. It’s what you want. But, it didn’t happen, and it didn’t look good when it got two-nothing. We got that break and that’s what we haven’t had, in it feels like all year, to turn the tide a little bit and we got a few more.”
That break came off a Teravainen shot.
His shot from the corner deflected off the glove of Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy and into the net.
“Sometimes, that’s what we need,” said Teravainen, whose eight goals and 21 assists on the season is second only to Aho on the team.
“Lucky goal, lucky bounce. It feels better after that. It’s so many small things in a hockey game that turn the game around. I feel like our battle is always good, so it’s the small things. Sometimes it bounces off the d-man.”
Aho, who has 12 points (six goals and six assists) in his last eight games, scored both a short-handed goal and a power-play goal in a game for the second time in 10 days.
It’s only the 15th time it’s been done by a Hurricanes/Whalers player since 1989.
“I think that was huge,” Aho said of rallying with four consecutive goals.
“Down 2-0, I’m sure you get those thoughts in your head. Is it this again? But it was really good to see that our team can come from down 2-0 against a good team.”
Aho and Teravainen moved from playing on the second line against Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Michael Ferland to form the first line with Andrei Svechnikov.
That move, and more PK time for Teravainen, came because Jordan Staal was again out, likely with a concussion.
“Obviously when you’re scoring, you get more confidence. That’s how it goes,” said Aho, who took only one shot in the loss to the Penguins but fired a game-high seven Sunday.
“Maybe it’s easier to score when you get a couple of goals. I’m feeling pretty good right now but it’s not just me.”
Aho and Teravainen have clicked with various linemates but not in recent games.
Svechnikov made for a good combination Sunday.
“We just worked hard,” Teravainen said.
“We got a few good bounces, I feel like. A couple of good forechecks and get the confidence with a couple of goals so it’s easier to play after that.”
The 1980s feel wasn’t just because every song played during the stoppages was a 1980s hit. (The Canes made sure that “Brass Bonanza” dominated the rotation, though.)
The number of goals made it feel like they were Adams Division rivals again, even with a little choppiness at times.
The power-play struggles continued for Carolina, but it doesn’t matter when you have more short-handed goals (2) than power-play goals (1).
“There are chances around,” Teravainen said of Carolina’s penalty kill.
“Sometimes, the power play is loose and they don’t do anything out there, you might get the puck in 2-on-1s or something, so you have to be ready to go.”
The last time that the Hartford Whalers faced the Boston Bruins, March 12, 1997, they also fell behind early and won late.
That night, the Whalers won 6-3 and Sunday they were just an empty-net goal away from matching that.
In 1997, though, the players didn’t act like beached whales on the ice to celebrate like the Canes did on Sunday night to end a festive night for the players and the fans.
Special "Beached Whale" edition of Brian Burke's favourite postgame traditionpic.twitter.com/jcGKdp73Lc
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 24, 2018
It was fun for all involved wearing green or red to go into the holiday break with some momentum and positive vibes.
It was one Whale of a victory.
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