RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t let another game slip through their fingers on Saturday night.
A solid effort in the third period finished off the visiting Minnesota Wild, as Carolina’s 5-1 triumph helped ease the pain of losing to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
It also tightened their hold on a wildcard playoff spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings.
Jordan Staal, Brett Pesce, Andrei Svechnikov, Lucas Wallmark, and Teuvo Teravainen tallied goals for Carolina while goaltender Petr Mrazek made 24 saves to record his 20th win of the season.
Former Canes captain Eric Staal scored Minnesota’s lone goal while Devan Dubnyk contended with 33 shots in the Wild net.
“That was the way to play in the third – that was a tough game,” Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We knew comin’ in how good they had been playin’. They were grinding. They were in playoff mode, limiting chances, and were really tough. We hung in there, and opened up in the third, so it was good.”
“We want playoffs”
The raucous crowd of 16,751 in attendance began chanting ‘we want playoffs’ as time counted down while Carolina played keep-away and pressured the puck until the final horn sounded.
“The crowd was great with the emotion in the building,” Brind’Amour said.
“A fun time for sure.”
Teravainen said he heard the chants.
“That was fun,” he said.
“Our fans are really getting into it and helping us. It was nice to hear. We’re trying to play good for them, so hopefully we can keep building here.”
Teuvo ends drought in style
While contributing to the Hurricanes offense with eight assists in his last 10 games, Teravainen’s 19th goal of the season capped off a three-goal run in just under eight minutes during the first half of the third period.
It also ended a long drought as it was his first marker since Feb. 26 during a 6-1 win over Los Angeles.
“There’s gonna be some games when you don’t score, but I feel like this year I’ve been playing better, even if I don’t score or getting points,” Teravainen said.
“Just trying to help overall in any game. I feel like the goals will come when you get chances. It’s nice to see one go in once in a while.”
Teravainen made it a very enjoyable sight to see when he got control of the puck after picking off a Wild pass at their blue line and strode in alone with just Dubnyk to beat.
The gangly netminder reached to poke check the puck away, but a draw to the backhand with momentum easily opened up the entire net for the Finnish forward to finish the play and finalize the game’s scoring at 5-1.
His goal plunged the final dagger into any hope Minnesota had of coming back following earlier goals in the period from Svechnikov and Wallmark.
With both teams skating to a scoreless first period, Staal’s ninth of the season, a tip off his skate from a Justin Faulk point shot set up by Teravainen was soon followed by a well-placed snipe from Pesce.
The defenseman’s seventh goal this year was perfectly placed over Dubnyk’s glove hand, opposite from the top of the left circle where the shot originated.
With the Hurricanes carrying the 2-1 lead into the third period, Svechnikov followed suit with a high snap shot to the Wild keeper’s stick side and posted his 19th goal of the year, a collective that have all been recorded at even strength – tops among all rookies.
Slamming it down
As the featured attraction following a win, the team’s Storm Surge celebration had a March Madness theme to it as a portable driveway-style hoop and backboard was the prop for a pickup basketball game among team members.
Playing the point, defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk dribbled through the picks set for him and slammed home a dunk – possibly the first recorded on NHL ice with skates.
Jokingly referring to the play drawn up with a North Carolina Tar Heels strategy and reference to coach Roy Williams, van Riemsdyk reinforced what the Hurricanes’ offensive strength has been all season and during this final playoff stretch drive.
“That’s what we have from first to fourth line, guys that can skate and guys that can play,” he said.
“Whether its Sea Bass (Sebastian Aho) and that line goin’, or Teuvo, Jordo goin’, it doesn’t matter who it is. Hopefully on most nights we have everyone goin, but obviously on some nights, maybe one line has it more than the other. That makes you a tough team to play against, especially at this time of year.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport