RALEIGH — Friday was Finland’s Independence Day was Friday, but Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen decided to celebrate a day late.
The two countrymen combined for eight points — with Aho getting his third career hat trick and first five-point game — to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Minnesota Wild 6-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,680 Saturday at PNC Arena.
Teravainen set up Aho for goals twice — once on the power play — after the tandem had previously teamed up to assist on Andrei Svechnikov’s 5-on-3 go-ahead goal in the first period, and Aho capped off his big night with a shorthanded empty-net goal.
“I guess I try to score five points every night,” Aho joked.
Minnesota — riding an 11-game point streak — got off to a fast start with a goal by Ryan Donato off a Petr Mrazek rebound (22 saves) just 2:21 into the game, but it was mostly Carolina from there.
The Hurricanes scored three straight, with Ryan Dzingel’s setup for Lucas Wallmark tying the game at 9:00 and Svechnikov getting his 13th goal on the power play.
With two Wild players in the box for two full minutes, the Hurricanes set up at 5 on 3 and Teravainen caught Wild defender Matt Dumba cheating toward Dougie Hamilton. Teravainen instead found Svechnikov on the back door for a tap-in and a 2-1 Carolina lead at 15:02 of the opening period that the Hurricanes would never relinquish.
“We practice it a little and we talk about it a little, but … a lot of times it’s put your best guys out there, make your plays,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the two-man advantage. “There’s certain fundamentals you have on 5-on-3s and certain rotations. At the end of the day, you guys gotta make some plays. That was certainly, obviously, a great play.”
The Hurricanes then pushed the lead to two when Aho and Teravainen hooked up on a give-and-go, with Aho beating Alex Stalock (34 saves) at 4:43 of the second.
The Wild’s Mats Zuccarello — forever a Hurricanes killer — gave Minnesota some momentum with a goal on an odd-man rush that was triggered by a missed shot by Teravainen at the other end just before the game’s midway point.
“I’ll never shoot again. The last time I shoot,” Teravainen joked after the game.
But any edge the Wild gained from the goal went away when Carolina easily killed off a Wallmark penalty.
Then Aho and Teravainen teamed up again for Aho’s second goal of the game, a power play goal that made it 4-2 at 15:15 of the second.
“Elite players pass it where it’s a layup to crush it, and that’s basically what happened there,” Brind’Amour said of Teravainen’s set up and Aho’s finish. “Guys one-time pucks all the time, but it’s where the pass is, and that was the key.”
Aho got his fourth point of the night in the third, winning a faceoff back to Joel Edmundson, whose shot beat Stalock with under 8 minutes left to pad Carolina’s lead to 5-2. Aho then triggered a hay shower with his third goal, firing the puck into the empty Minnesota net while on the penalty kill for his 16th goal of the season.
“You want to score a lot of points and you want to produce for the team, but you don’t think about, ‘I have to get a hat trick right now,’ or something like that,” Aho said. “Today was one of those days when we got all the bounces.”
Notes: Aho became the 18th player in franchise history — and seventh since the move to North Carolina — to have a five-point game. … Teravainen had three primary assists for the second time this season (Nov. 23). The previous two players to have three primary assists in a game for Carolina were Wallmark (Nov. 23, 2018) and Justin Williams (Oct. 7, 2018). … Brian Gibbons and Clark Bishop were both reassigned to Charlotte of the AHL after the game. … Saturday was the first two-penalty game of Wallmark’s career. … Edmundson’s five shots on goal were the most in his 30 games with the Hurricanes and matched his career-high, achieved five times with the Blues.