RALEIGH — If there was ever a good omen, it came just eight minutes into the Hurricanes’ home game Monday at PNC Arena when struggling Sebastian Aho scored for the first time this season.
From there, he let countryman Teuvo Teravainen take over.
Teravainen had four points, including a natural hat trick in the third period, to bust open a tie game in Carolina’s 5-1 over the Dallas Stars in front of 7,968 at PNC Arena.
The first came with the game tied 1-1 in the third period and Carolina’s near-death power play on its fourth opportunity of the night after seeing two of the previous three washed away by penalties.
“It’s been a struggle with the power play lately, we haven’t scored that many goals,” Teravainen said. “But we’ve been talking about shooting more … pucks and being around the net.”
On the left point, Teravainen did exactly that, firing a shot while an in-front-of-the-net Elias Lindholm took away Ben Bishop’s sight line and the puck went over the goalie’s left shoulder for a 2-1 lead at 2:39 of the third.
“That’s just a byproduct of guys wanting to do too much, right?” Peters said of the two earlier power plays that were wiped out by penalties on Lindholm and Justin Williams. “They want to do too much. Now that we’ve scored on it … we can build on moving forward.”
It was the Hurricanes’ first power play goal since Oct. 29, snapping a five-game drought and giving Carolina (7-5-4) just its second power play goal in the last 11 games after it started the season with five in its first five games.
“It’s been frustrating, all throughout the room,” said Jordan Staal, who finished with a career-high four assists on the night. “It’s nice to see us get rewarded with just a simple shot with a great screen. We’ll continue to work like we have to get a better PP.”
Teravainen’s second goal, just over four minutes later, was another shot from far out that hit Dallas defenseman John Klingberg’s stick and deflected past Bishop (23 saves) for a 3-1 lead. At 9:44, Teravainen one-timed a pass from Staal in the slot that beat Bishop and sunk the Stars (9-8-0), giving the 23-year-old forward his first career hat trick.
An early Stars power play opportunity and some sloppy play by Carolina had visiting Dallas with a 7-1 shot advantage and the Hurricanes scrambling to survive.
However, just like the Hurricanes have been searching for consistency, Aho had been looking for the back of the net.
The sophomore Finn who scored 24 times last season got his first goal of the year in his 16th game at 8:07 of the first period, finishing off a 2-on-1 feed from Staal to give Carolina an early lead.
“I tried to be positive and just go and make plays, just not think about it too much,” Aho said of his goal drought, which nearly mirrored his start last season when he didn’t score until his 14th game. “I know it was coming and I’m glad it happened then.”
The play was started in Carolina end when Teravainen poked a loose puck past Klingberg to spring Staal and Aho. The one man back, Esa Lindell, lost his edge and slid toward Staal’s feet, leading the co-captain to feather the puck to a streaking Aho. Aho opened up Bishop’s pads with a deke and slid the puck in.
“That thing went in and, you know, I don’t know who’s happier — more collectively as a group on the bench or himself,” Peters said. “He’s been playing well and he knew it was going to come.”
The line with Staal centering Aho and Tervainen finished with 11 points — the same total it had when Aho got his first career goal against Washington last season in a three-point night.
“It was an exciting moment,” Teravainen said of Aho’s goal. “He scored a goal finally, and last year was the same thing — he didn’t score in a lot of games at the start. It’s good for him and hopefully he’ll get more now.”
Carolina appeared to jump out to a two-goal lead early in the second when Brock McGinn, who had scored in three straight games, for the second straight game beat a goalie with a backhand on the rush. The horn went off, but review showed the puck hit both posts and did not go in.
Four minutes later, the Stars evened things on the power play.
After Williams was called hooking while Carolina was on the power play — the second time in the first half of the game the Hurricanes had a man advantage erased by a penalty — Alexander Radulov fired a Tyler Seguin feed past Carolina goalie Scott Darling (25 saves) to tie it 1-1 at 8:44 of the second.
But that was all the offense the Stars would muster.
Jeff Skinner closed the scoring with just 2.6 seconds left, getting his ninth goal and second in as many games to produce the final margin.
The win gave the Hurricanes points in five straight (3-0-2) and helped shake off Saturday overtime loss where they blew a two-goal lead in the final period.
“You only have a short-term memory with the bad stuff; the good stuff you remember and keep it rolling, keep the confidence going,” Darling said.
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock had a different point of view.
“I don’t want to put it behind us,” a disappointed Hitchcock said. “I want us to remember this and I was us to grow from it.”
Notes: Radulov extended his point streak to eight games with his goal. … Staal lost all six faceoffs he took in the first period, but won 10 of 16 in the final two frames. … Haydn Fleury’s 19:47 of ice time Monday was the most he’s had in a regulation game in his career. … Josh Jooris was credited with a team-high five hits. … Klingberg, Lindell, Seguin and Radulov were all minus-3 on the night. … Statrs defenseman Stephen Johns had a game-high eight hits, but was called for an illegal check to the head 51 seconds into the third period, leading to Carolina’s game-winning power play goal.