A cross-country flight and an afternoon start at the end of a long trip is often enough to trip up even the best of teams. Throw in a goal allowed in the first minute and a shorthanded goal later in the opening period, and the Carolina Hurricanes had plenty of excuses to inch toward the bus for the plane ride home and a reunion with their homes and families.
The Hurricanes instead scored three times in the first six minutes of the second period to take the lead from the Flyers and didn’t look back, ending their six-game road trip with a 6-3 win in Philadelphia.
“I think that’s the biggest takeaway, just flying across the country yesterday after a couple tough games,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It just feels like we’ve been on the road forever. … I just thought the guys dug in tonight, and you’re not always going to get those results, but it’s nice to see.”
After managing just one goal in each of their last two games, Sebastian Aho had two on his own — including one just 23 seconds into the middle frame that started a four-goal flurry by Carolina in the second period.
“I think we were able to capitalize on them where in the last few games we haven’t really connected on our opportunities,” Brind’Amour said. “Tonight we did.”
Things didn’t look so promising in the first period.
In the opening minute of the game, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux circled the Carolina net and sent a pass across the crease that defenseman Ivan Provorov punched into the Hurricanes’ net. Carolina challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal was upheld to put the Flyers up 1-0 after just 50 seconds.
The Hurricanes responded with Aho’s first goal of the night at 13:40 of the period and had a chance to take the lead when they went on the power play just under two minutes later.
But Carolina’s power play faltered and allowed a rush by Joel Farabee, who dangled around Seth Jarvis and scored five-hole on Antti Raanta (20 saves) to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead at 17:02 of the second. The Hurricanes’ power play was 0 for 4 on the night and has now gone five games without scoring.
Aho’s second goal on a quick short-side shot past Carter Hart (30 saves) just 23 seconds into the second period opened the floodgates for Carolina.
“It was a sneaky shot there. Sometimes those go in,” Aho said.
Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen responded under a minute later, but Jesper Fest got his sixth goal of the season on the next shift to tie the game at 3.
Then Jesperi Kotkaniemi finished off a nice sequence by scoring off a Jarvis pass to give Carolina the lead for good. Steven Lorentz scored in tight for his third of the year late in the second to cap Carolina’s four-goal second.
“It’s always good to get a couple points in,” said Kotkaniemi, who also assisted on Lorentz’s goal for his first two-point game with the Hurricanes. Kotkaniemi moved back to center on Nov. 16 and has looked more effective since returning to his natural position.
“I’ve been playing center a little longer than wing,” he said, “so I think it’s a little more natural for me. … You’re a little more involved in the game when you play middle. And then the skating, you just keep going and you don’t need to stop that much, I feel. So I think that’s good for me.”
Andrei Svechnikov finished the scoring with his eighth goal of the year at 4:50 of the third, ending a run of 11 games without a goal.
“I don’t really focus on that. I know he does,” Brind’Amour said of Svechnikov ending his drought. “He wants to score every shift, let alone every night. So when he goes along stretch without scoring, it certainly builds on him.
“But that was a big goal, right? Early in the third, it just kind of put the game out of reach.”
Notes: Carolina finished its six-game road trip with nine of 12 possible points and improved its league-best record to 15-3-1. … Every Hurricanes skater registered a shot on goal, led by seven from Aho. … Brendan Smith was plus-3 on the night, moving him to plus-2 on the season. There are now no Hurricanes players on the roster with a negative plus/minus. Josh Leivo, who played two games with Carolina before being reassigned to AHL Chicago, is a minus-2 in the NHL this season.