RALEIGH — Nine minutes of Sunday’s Whalers Night themed game, the Carolina Hurricanes really seemed to embrace the mediocre past of the franchise’s former identity.
Already down two and a collective, “Oh no, not again” feeling admittedly coming from the coach and players, the Hurricanes turned the tables on Hartford’s biggest rival, beating the Bruins 5-3 in front of 17,491 behind four points each from Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.
The Bruins got a lucky bounce off Carolina defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, then another off Jordan Martinook shortly after the Hurricanes failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play to jump ahead by two goals on a team that had scored just once in its last two games combined.
“We talked before the game — if anything happened, we have to stay strong and turn it around,” Teuvo Teravainen said.
And the Finnish forward used a bounce to get Carolina back in the game.
Teravainen centered a pass toward Aho that bounced off Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and past Tuukka Rask (32 saves) to cut the lead in half and press play on “Brass Bonanza” 12:55 into the game.
“It didn’t look good when it got 2-0, but like I said, we got that break,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “And that’s what we haven’t had in really what feels like all year to turn the tide a little bit. And then we got a few more.”
Teravainen was the catalyst again, this time on the penalty kill.
Forechecking while down a man, Teravainen delivered a check in the Boston zone and forced a turnover. He grabbed the puck and passed it to Aho, who was all alone in the slot and fired a shot that trickled through Rask to tie it just 89 seconds into the second period.
Aho then got in on the defense-first mentality, forcing a neutral zone turnover that led to an odd-man rush. Teravainen wound up with the puck and again dished to Aho, who blasted the puck home for a 3-2 lead at 7:11 of the middle frame.
“That was special. They were flying,” Brind’Amour said of the Finns’ play.
Defenseman Justin Faulk got his first goal since Oct. 22 — and first of the season at even strength — on a wrist shot through a Clark Bishop screen to make it 4-2 just past the game’s midway point.
“He’s had a lot of good looks this year — really a lot of our D have — and they just haven’t gone in for him,” Brind’Amour said of Faulk. “He needs a break, too, so maybe that’s the one that can get him rolling.”
The Bruins clawed their way back when, with 3:55 left in the second, Ryan Donato — who scored off van Riemsdyk to open the scoring — got his second goal of the night with a wrist shot that beat Petr Mrazek (27 saves) to make it 4-3.
But Teravainen and Aho weren’t done.
Rask misplayed the puck in his own end with Boston on the power play, and Aho pounced. A scramble ensued, with the puck ending up on Teravainen’s stick and then in the net for the second shorthanded goal of the night and an insurance goal at 7:20 of the third.
The two-goal cushion proved enough, and in head-to-toe green the Hurricanes celebrated their latest win with a beached whale Storm Surge.
For a night, the Forever .500s — the unfortunate label attached to the Whalers — were undefeated on the season. The coach even took a reluctant liking to the old fight song.
“Love it,” Brind’Amour deadpanned.
One thing he did seem grateful for was the chance to perhaps enjoy the holiday break.
“The guys at least gave me a few days where I don’t have to freak out,” Brind’Amour said. “I can take a breath here, and then we obviously have to get right back to work. It was a great win, but we’re still obviously not where we want to be.”
Notes: Jordan Staal was again out of the lineup, along with Haydn Fleury, with a presumed concussion was replaced in the lineup by Clark Bishop. Phil Di Giuseppe was scratched and replaced by Janne Kuokkanen, who was called up from the AHL with Bishop Saturday night. Both were reassigned to Charlotte following the game. … Andrei Svechnikov played on the top line with Aho and Teravainen for the first time. He was plus-1 with two shots and two minor penalties. … Aho had a game-high seven shots on goal. he and Teravainen were plus-4, while McAvoy was minus-4 for Boston.