RALEIGH — With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in town, many wanted to look ahead a couple years to a possible outdoor game in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes quickly reminded everyone about all the good things that are going on right now.
Carolina scored twice in the first half of the opening period and added four second-period goals in a 6-1 rout of the visiting Kings in front of 13,042 Tuesday at PNC Arena.
But despite the win that included fan chants of “Pe-tr! Pe-tr!” and “Doug-ie! Doug-ie!” — for goalie Peter Mrazek’s 22 saves and defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s three-point night, respectively — the mood following the game was more somber. Both Micheal Ferland and Justin Faulk left the game in the second period with injuries and did not return, and defenseman Calvin de Haan was seemingly injured in the weight room during his postgame workout.
“This was a tough night for that, and I haven’t really assessed the damage here after, probably more tomorrow,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the injuries. “Those are the games that you hate to see it. Stuff’s going to happen. Obviously, we need everyone healthy here, so we’ll know more tomorrow.”
On the ice, things couldn’t have gone much better.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring with some help from the Kings.
Los Angeles defenseman Dion Phaneuf battled and then tackled Hurricanes winger Saku Maenalanen into Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, who fell to the side of the net and lost his stick. That left an open net for Hamilton, who fired the puck in for a 1-0 lead at 5:56 of the first.
It didn’t take Carolina long to push its lead to two.
Sebastian Aho led an odd-man rush up the ice and called his own number, wiring a shot through Quick’s five hole at 11:15. It snapped a 10-goal goal drought for Aho, and he got both his 25th goal and 70th point of the season on the play.
“We need to get to them right away,’ Hamilton said of jumping out to an early lead. “It’s tough to play when everyone’s coming at you all the time, so if we can do that in the first period it’s tough for the other team to come back from that. We were able to do it tonight, get a couple goals and just kept going from there.”
They kept it going in the second — times two.
First, Ferland redirected a Jordan Staal shot past Quick just 25 seconds into the middle frame to give Carolina a three-goal cushion.
Justin Williams was tripped by the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli 15 seconds after the third goal, and as the ensuing power play wound down, Jaccob Slavin’s slap shot from the point beat Quick to make it 4-0 at 2:19 of the second.
The red-hot Hurricanes weren’t done in the second.
First, some nifty passing led to a Teuvo Teravainen goal, his 18th of the year, at 14:01. Teravainen then got his fourth point of the game, setting up Hamilton’s second of the evening just 40 seconds later for a 6-0 lead.
“It’s confidence, it’s learning from mistakes for past years, and I feel like this group is more ready and just more fun in the locker room,” Teravainen said of this year’s team compared to seasons past. “You can see every day there’s some good humor around here, and we just try to get better every day, and that’s what keeps us going.”
Quick didn’t return for the third, being replaced by Jack Campbell.
With 7:58 left in the game, Dustin Brown broke up a shutout bid by Mrazek, ripping a shot past the Carolina goalie on a 2-on-1 rush for the lone third period goal.
The Kings, now winless in nine straight, then took their frustrations out on the Hurricanes, and four misconducts — two on each team — were called in the final 81 seconds.
“It’s one of those games, it gets out of hand,” Brind’Amour said. “And that happens.”
What happens next will be more important.
The Hurricanes, winners of six out of seven and now out of a wild-card spot and into third in the Metropolitan Division (based on points), get two days to tend to battle scars from Tuesday’s win before they host St. Louis — the only team that can match Carolina in a “who’s hot?” scale at the moment — on Friday and then play the next night in Florida.
“Everybody’s so important to our group,” Brind’Amour said. “ Again, it was a good effort, this is a good win. Now we’ll see tomorrow how we’ll assess everything and then move forward.
Notes: Staal had three assists in his second game back from a concussion. … Jaccob Slavin was minus-18, worst among NHL defensemen through 36 games this season. After a plus-3 Tuesday, he is back to even. … Teravainen tied a career high for assists in a season Tuesday, with his three helpers taking him to 41 on the year. … Aho became the first player since Eric Staal in 2011-12 to reach 70 points. That was the last of four straight seasons Staal registered at least 70 points.