Hurricanes find top line in ‘TSA’

Teravainen, Staal, Aho give Carolina a scoring boost

Wingers Sebastian Aho, right, and Teuvo Teravainen, left, make up two-thirds of Carolina's "TSA" line, which is centered by Jordan Staal. (Andy Marlin / USA TODAY Sports)

RALEIGH — A year after it first emerged as the top-flight scoring trio the Carolina Hurricanes have so desperately needed, the TSA Line — Jordan Staal centering Finns Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho — is back with a vengeance.

It was rewarded Monday when Teuvo Teravainen, with 10 points last week as Carolina won three of four, was named the NHL’s First Star for the week ending Nov. 19. Teravainen opened the week with a hat trick and four points against Dallas on Nov. 13 and ended it was a two-goal, one-assist effort in Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Islanders, collecting three assists in the team’s other two games.

“It’s all about confidence, I think,” Teravainen said. “We feel good about ourselves, and it’s always more fun to play with a smile and have some fun out there.”

It’s not happenstance that Teravainen’s big week came just as Aho busted out of his scoring funk.

The sophomore star had gone the first 15 games of the season without registering a goal, but scored in each of the past four starting with his goal against Dallas en route to accumulating nine points of his own during the week.

“I think everybody got pretty excited when he got his first, and now he’s scoring every game,” Teravainen said of his countryman. “So I think he’s not even changing anything. He didn’t get any goals in the first 15 or something, but he played the same way, he just didn’t get any luck.”

Aho let out a roar when he got the first goal and hasn’t quieted since — except in his matter-of-fact demeanor off the ice.

“I think we all can make some plays and we try to play fast, and that’s it,” he said of the TSA line after the Dallas win.

In the middle is Staal, the prototypical shutdown center who has anchored the line by helping the Hurricanes not only shut down the opposition’s best, but also put pucks in the net.

“Our line has to be there to play solid both ways but contribute offensively,” the co-captain said, channeling coach Bill Peters’ creed to “play the right way.”

It’s what Carolina envisioned when it committed to Staal — who had six assists last week — for 10 years, and also when it traded for Teravainen from the cap-strapped Blackhawks.

Teravainen has been one of the league’s most dangerous even-strength players, ranking in the top 10 in the league in points per 60 minutes at 5 on 5. He’s also sparked Carolina’s struggling power play with man-advantage points in three of the last four.

And with Aho nearly as hot as Teravainen, Peters and the coaching staff can focus on figuring out the struggles of Victor Rask (a healthy scratch Sunday) and experiment more with Elias Lindholm (a goal at home agains the Isles) at center.

After the Dallas win, Peters sensed his team was turning a corner.

“It’s coming, for sure.”

The key will be keeping it going until April and beyond.