Hurricanes strike early, Raanta gets 3rd shutout in win over Senators

Carolina won its fifth straight

Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) stops a shot by Senators captain Brady Tkachuk during Carolina’s 4-0 win Friday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes opened with a ferocious first 15 minutes and left the rest to their goalie.

Carolina got two goals in the first 6½ minutes and Antti Raanta made 32 saves for his third shutout of the season in a 4-0 win Friday over the Senators in front of a standing-room crowd of 18,788 at PNC Arena.

“A lot of credit to him,” Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei said of Raanta. “Probably most of the credit to him. He was phenomenal tonight.”

The win was the Hurricanes’ fifth straight and the 15th straight game in which Carolina got at least a point when Raanta was in net.

“When we got back from the bye week, I think the first game wasn’t what we wanted,” Raanta said of the team’s 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Feb. 11. “And after that, we’ve just tried to stick with our game, and it’s been working pretty well.”

The formula of late has been to jump on teams early. Carolina has outscored opponents in the first period in each of the last four games, and it took only about a third of the first period to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

The Hurricanes scored 3:48 into the game when the top line entered the offensive zone with possession and Sebastian Aho passed to Seth Jarvis as he drove to the crease. Jarvis was shoved into Senators goalie Cam Talbot — who made 26 saves in his first game since being injured Jan. 25 — and the net by Ottawa’s Alex DeBrincat.

The puck kicked out to Brent Burns between the top of the circles, and he dangled into the slot and fired the puck over both Talbot and Jarvis for a 1-0 lead.

“I was so scared to look up,” Jarvis said of his too-close-for-comfort seat for the goal. “I didn’t know what was going on. I was in the net, I knew the play was still going on. … I saw on the replay it was probably a good couple inches above my head.”

Then Jarvis put the puck, instead of himself, in the net 2½ minutes later.

He and Andrei Svechnikov won a puck battle in the corner and the puck went to Aho, who feathered a pass past Ottawa defenseman Travis Hamonic to Jarvis in front. Talbot stopped Jarvis’ initial shot, but the second-year winger got his own rebound and stuffed it in for his 13th goal of the season and fifth in four games to give Carolina a 2-0 lead at 6:29.

“I put one on net and sometimes, probably before, it’d probably kick the other way,” said Jarvis, who has seven points in his last four games after having just 24 in the season’s first 53 games. “But it kicked right back to me, and I was able to score the rebound.”

Carolina outshot Ottawa 17-7 in the first period, but penalties — four in a nine-minute stretch that started late in the opening frame — slowed the Hurricanes’ momentum.

Raanta and the team’s penalty kill rose to the occasion, preventing the Senators from scoring on all five of their opportunities — including 41 seconds of 5-on-3 time at the start of the second — to improve to 19 for 21 in their last seven games.

“The PK stepped up,” said Skjei, who logged 4:53 of his team-high 23:03 on the kill. “They have a really skilled power play, and (we) did the job and they didn’t come up with anything.

The Hurricanes delivered the death blow with just under eight minutes left in the game. After serving a tripping penalty, Carolina defenseman Calvin de Haan stepped up in the neutral zone to intercept a Senators’ pass. He dumped the puck in and Martin Necas shoved it behind the net.

Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom wheeled the puck around the boards, but Svechnikov collected it and quickly zipped a pass cross ice to Necas for a one-timer that went in for his 23rd goal of the year and a 3-0 lead at 12:34 of the third.

Skjei added a rink-length empty-net goal with 3:30 for his 11th goal, and all that was left was for Carolina to secure the shutout for Raanta.

“There’s probably going to be a game where you’re going to be losing,” Raanta said of being 12-0-2 in his last 15 appearances. “But obviously if you can keep winning, it’s always fun.”

Notes: Svechnikov was plus-4 for the second straight game, becoming the second player in franchise history and first since Eric Staal in 2010 (April 6 and April 8) to accomplish the feat. … Svechnikov also has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last four games. … Ten different Hurricanes took a faceoff. … Raanta’s save percentage jumped from .902 to .908.