By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – If you missed it because you fell asleep, (and why would you do that?), or if you haven’t heard or realized it yet, the Carolina Hurricanes won Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena and claimed their Round 1 series over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night – well, Friday morning to be accurate.
Sebastian Aho’s tip-in off Jaccob Slavin’s point shot at 1:06 into the first overtime period ended it by a margin of 4-3, and sent the Hurricanes on to the 2021 NHL Playoffs second round to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
It will mark the first-ever postseason series between the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise and Lightning.
Carolina has faced the defending Stanley Cup champions in the postseason on three prior occasions – the Whalers fell to the Canadiens in the 1980 Preliminary Round, while the Hurricanes lost to the Devils in the 2001 Conference Quarterfinals, but defeated the Capitals in the 2019 First Round.
An official announcement on the series schedule will be made soon.
Aho bits and bytes
The Hurricanes scored three unanswered goals in the game bookended by markers from Aho, and rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn the win.
With the win, the Hurricanes have earned at least one series win in each of the last three postseasons, which trails only the Bruins (4; 2018–2021) for the longest active run in the NHL.
Aho became the fifth player in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history to score a series clincher in overtime, joining Martin Gelinas (Game 6 of 2002 CF), Cory Stillman (Game 6 of 2006 CQF), Scott Walker (Game 7 of 2009 CSF) and Brock McGinn (Game 7 of 2019 R1).
Aho scored two goals in a series-clinching win for the second time in his NHL career (also Game 3 of 2020 SCQ).
His six career goals in potential series-clinching games are the most in franchise history (6-2—8 in 4 GP), while his eight points under that criteria are tied for second place among Hurricanes/Whalers players.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport