The Hurricanes jumped out to a three-goal lead and stayed unbeaten against Nashville this season, winning 4-1 Thursday at PNC Arena.
Warren Foegele, Andrei Svechnikov, Vincent Trocheck and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina, and Petr Mrazek made 19 saves and improved to 5-1-1 on the season.
1. After two straight losses to lowly Detroit, the Hurricanes needed something to stabilize their game. Enter the penalty kill. It was called upon just 54 seconds into the game when Jake Bean was called for boarding and easily killed off the penalty. Carolina’s penalty killers finished 4 for 4 on the night and limited Nashville to just one shot on goal in a smothering effort.
“Our pressure was really key tonight on the PK,” Foegele said. “We were making them rim the puck, forced them to have errors. It was a great job by the whole unit.”
2. Jani Hakanpaa made his Hurricanes debut and logged 14:48 while playing as advertised — he was credited with three hits, including a big open-ice shot delivered to Mikael Granlund in the neutral zone. He was also on the ice for Foegele’s goal.
“It’s a good first game for him,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “New system, there’s a lot going on, for a D-man especially. Just the D zone coverage, there’s a lot of things going on there that he’s gonna have to pick up. So I thought he did a good job. He’s big man, gets in the way, and that’s one of the things I noticed right away.”
3. For just the fourth time in 26 games, Svechnikov scored. With Carolina up 1-0 after a late first period goal by Foegele, Svechnikov started the second with a bang by taking a pass from Dougie Hamilton and splitting two Predators defenders. He flipped a quick backhand that beat Jusse Saros (25 saves) over the right pad and under the blocker for his 11th goal of the season just 14 seconds into the middle frame.
Then came the celebration — one that looked like it lifted nearly two months of frustration off the 21-year-old’s shoulders.
“I gotta keep going,” Svechnikov said. “It’s just one goal. Hopefully it’s gonna get me going, and I will try my best next game.”
Brind’Amour is hopeful it will lead to Svechnikov getting back to the player who dominated at the start of the season.
“You would hope so,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s had a lot of opportunities. … He was really good after the first. The first, not so much, and then he got it together and he was one of the better players out there throughout the rest of that game.”
Number To Know
5-0-0 — The Hurricanes’ record against the Predators this season. Nashville is the only other team in the Central Division with a perfect record against another opponent — the Preds are also 5-0-0 against the Blackhawks.
They Said It
“No. You’re just thrown into the fire.”
— Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck on if the Hurricanes welcome their new teammates with information on how the Storm Surge is done.
Warren Foegele, Hurricanes forward — Foegele opened the scoring with 1:34 left in the opening period, beating Ben Harpur to the front of the net and knocking in a centering pass from Jordan Staal to give Carolina a 1-0 lead.
“I thought I had a step on my guy and was hoping Jordo saw me, and just a beautiful pass by him,” Foegele said.
Foegele was also part of Carolina’s stingy penalty kill, logging 2:44 shorthanded while mostly teaming up with Staal up front. He finished with four shots on goal, tying Aho and Svechnikov for the team lead.
Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes center — Aho got a power play goal in the game’s final few minutes, but he was also guilty of the Hurricanes’ biggest mistake in the game, also when Carolina was up a man.
Aho tried to carry the puck into the Nashville zone, but it was poked away and former teammate Erik Haula scored on a breakaway for the Predators only goal. It is only the second shorthanded goal allowed by the Hurricanes this season — the other was scored on a penalty shot by Columbus’ Cam Atkinson on Feb. 8.