Hurricanes blast Lightning to win second straight preseason game

New captain Justin Williams and Janne Kuokkanen team up for three power play points each in 6-1 win at PNC Arena

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour speaks with his players during Carolina's 6-1 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday at PNC Arena. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — New captain Justin Williams and linemate Janne Kuokkanen had three power play points each, newcomers Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland both scored, and Scott Darling didn’t allow a goal as the Hurricanes topped the Lightning 5-1 Wednesday night in Carolina’s home preseason opener Wednesday at PNC Arena.

Williams and Kuokkanen teamed up to open the scoring, then both assisted on third-period goals by Ferland and Jaccob Slavin — all on the power play — to lead the Hurricanes to a win for the second straight night against Tampa Bay.

“We obviously started slow and the game was kind of not very good, just to put it bluntly,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “And then there was a point where (Tampa) had the 5-on-3. They score there, it’s just a different game. So that’s when you need a save, and we got them.”

Brind’Amour was speaking of Darling, who seemed to be fighting the puck in the first period. But the Carolina goalie — who lost 25 pounds this offseason while working out with team strength coach Bill Burniston in Raleigh — exited the game at the midway point with 16 saves on 16 shots. That included several good stops in a penalty-filled 10 minutes of the middle frame that included the two-man advantage for the Lightning.

“I just felt good. I felt confident,” said Darling, who got in a planned 30 minutes of work. Prospect Callum Booth played the remainder of the game, stopping 10 of 11 shots.

After Carolina’s top power play unit couldn’t make headway on Carolina’s first man advantage, Williams got the second unit and the Hurricanes going with a perfect feed to Kuokkanen for a tap-in goal and a 1-0 lead at 13:29 of the first.

Ferland — acquired along with Hamilton and prospect Adam Fox from Calgary for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm at this summer’s draft — later got his first goal, with Kuokkanen blasting a shot from the left wing off Tampa goalie Edward Pasquale’s right pad and right to the rugged winger. Williams got the secondary assist.

“Actually I was trying to score, but that was a lucky bounce. I’ll take it,” Kuokkanen said.

Kuokkanen and Williams then got their third point when, again on the power play, Slavin’s point shot went through a maze of players and trickled in for Carolina’s final goal.

“I don’t put a lot of weight into goals in the preseason,” Brind’Amour said of the power play, trying to temper expectations. “I remember last year, I think we were lighting it up in preseason and I don’t know if we scored one for 10 games or something.”

Brind’Amour did, however, have praise for his new power play quarterback.

“You hear about him, for sure. And now I can see what everyone’s talking about,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s one of those guys we’re going to rely on big time. I love the way he thinks the game and sees it.”

Hamilton got his goal with successive shots — he totaled a game-high seven on the night — taking a slap shot from the right point that came right back to him, then firing a second shot that found the back of the net over Pasquale’s right shoulder to make it 2-0 at 17:04 of the second period.

“They kind of set the tone and we wanted to follow it up,” Hamilton said of the other half of the camp roster winning 4-1 Tuesday night. “Preseason’s important. You have to get ready for the season.”

Then as the period wound down, Carolina broke the game open with a third goal.

Defenseman Justin Faulk, Carolina’s other big shot from the right side, ripped a puck that Martin Necas redirected while cruising through the slot with just 25 seconds left in the period.

“He handled himself really well,” Brind’Amour said of Necas. “You give him a little time and space, he’s going to make plays.”

Like Tuesday in Tampa, the Lightning got their first goal early in the third. Adam Erne sped around the Carolina net and zipped the puck to the goal mouth where Boris Katchouk banged it past Booth to make it 3-1 just 50 seconds into the third.

But the Ferland goal was followed by a short-side wrister by Julien Gauthier that pushed the lead to four, and Slavin’s goal three minutes later closed out the scoring.

While Brind’Amour is off to a 2-0 start behind the bench, he knows there’s still work to be done.

“The wins are nice, but it’s the way you’ve got to play,” Brind’Amour said.

Notes: Carolina defenseman Josiah Didier was shaken up in the second period and did not return. Brind’Amour said Didier injured his knee and would probably be out for “an extended period,” but was unsure of the severity. … Carolina is 5-for-12 on the power play in two games. … Twelve Carolina players had points, with Williams and Kuokkanen getting three, and Slavin and Spencer Smallman recording two. … Carolina won 38 of 66 faceoffs, and only Nicolas Roy lost more than he won (8 of 17).