RALEIGH — Frustration was clearly at a boiling point for the Carolina Hurricanes. Just 1-4-1 in their last six games despite playing what coach Rod Brind’Amour has called arguably their best hockey of the season, the high-octane Hurricanes from early in the season had turned into a cursed bunch.
What a difference a night makes.
Vincent Trocheck ended an eight-game point drought with three points, Ian Cole got his first goal as a Hurricane, Sebastian Aho set up two Teuvo Teravainen goals and Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist to snap Carolina’s three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres in front of a sellout crowd Saturday at PNC Arena.
“We pretty much scored every chance we had, it felt like,” Brind’Amour said. “We got our Grade A’s, they went in. You get those nights sometimes. I think we deserved it after what’s gone on here last little while.”
The Hurricanes had outshot their previous two opponents, the Stars and Senators, by a combined 89-37 but managed just three goals and lost both games.
There were no such problems Saturday,
Aho and Teravainen — reunited on the top line with Niederreiter — connected twice on Aho backhand passes that Teravainen scored over the glove of Sabres goalie Malcolm Subban, who was playing his first game with Buffalo after being acquired by trade from Chicago on Thursday.
The first, just 2:16 into the game, gave Carolina a goal in the first period for the first time in three games. The second was the Hurricanes’ first shorthanded goal of the season.
“We don’t really think too much,” Teravainen said of he and Aho connecting for two goals. “We just read from each other and make some plays when there’s plays — a couple nice goals.”
The Hurricanes were shorthanded after Trocheck was handed a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for a hit on Buffalo’s Tage Thompson with under three minutes left in the second period.
It sullied an otherwise brilliant performance by Trocheck.
The Carolina center, who had not gotten on the score sheet since Nov. 16, earned assists on goals by Martin Necas and Cole before scoring one of his own.
Niederreiter forced a turnover in the Buffalo end and Trocheck pounced, firing a puck past Subban (19 saves) to push the Hurricanes’ lead to 4-1.
“It’s the NHL and you’re gonna go through droughts here and there, “Trocheck said, “and obviously it’s going to hurt your confidence a little bit. … We haven’t been scoring a lot, so to put the puck in the net and have six tonight, it helps the confidence.”
Trocheck’s hit on Thompson, with Carolina comfortably ahead 5-1 following Niederreiter’s goal at 11:42 of the middle frame, put the Hurricanes down a second forward after Andrei Svechnikov missed the game with a finger injury.
“I obviously felt bad at the outcome,” Trocheck said of Thompson initially going to the locker room after the hit. “Obviously, I was glad he came back out and he was OK … but I didn’t think that it was a five and a game.”
Brind’Amour, with only 11 forwards available, dressed seven defenseman — including Ethan Bear, who had missed the last six games after testing positive for COVID-19 in San Jose. Fellow defensemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo subsequently also tested positive and are both still in the league’s protocol.
That wasn’t all the Hurricanes were dealing with. Goalie Frederik Andersen was absent from the bench as the backup, and Brind’Amour later said he and a handful of others were not feeling well.
“We’re a M.A.S.H. unit right now. … We had about four guys not feeling well,” Brind’Amour said. “To get through this night with a win with all the guys sick and out, I’m pretty proud of the group.”
With six goals on the scoreboard and two points in the standings, the players — even if they weren’t feeling their best — could at least feel good about the final result.
“It’s nice to get a night like this,” Teravainen said. “Get some goals and the boys are smiling again.”
Notes: Antti Raanta started his second straight game and made 32 saves to improve to 4-1-1 on the season. … Teravainen was a career-best plus-5 on the night. … After receiving 15 minutes in penalties for his hit on Thompson, Trocheck is now tied for the team lead in penalty minutes with Svechnikov at 35. … Aho had three assists for the third time in his career. … Sabres GM Kevyn Adams, an alternate captain on the Hurricanes’ 2006 Stanley Cup team, was in attendance at PNC Arena.