Hurricanes overwhelm Lightning, power play fuels 6-0 win

Jesperi Kotkaniemi had five points and Teuvo Teravainen had his second career hat trick

Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen watches a shot by teammate Shayne Gostisbehere get past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for a goal during Carolina’s 6-0 win Sunday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes used their first time back at PNC Arena since the trade deadline to make a statement to their fans and the rest of the NHL: They’re still a contender.

Carolina dominated the Lightning on Sunday, winning 6-0 and with so many standout performances that goalie Frederik Andersen’s first shutout of the season didn’t even earn him one of the game’s three stars.

Where to begin?

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who in the lead-up to the deadline was often a target by pundits for being a weak link at second-line center, had a career-high five points, registering four assists and scoring his 12th goal of the year with 3:26 remaining on Carolina’s fourth power play goal of the night.

“He’s playing way better, and he’s really proving he can be a really great player for us,” linemate Teuvo Teravainen said.

Teravainen had an equally big night, notching his second career hat trick and matching a career high with eight shots on goal.

And while seemingly every in the Eastern Conference went all-in by trading high draft picks and top prospects before 3 p.m. on Friday, the Hurricanes worked the around the edges, upgrading the bottom half of their lineup with Jesse Puljujarvi and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The team is still waiting for Puljujarvi’s visa clearance to join the team, but Gostisbehere continued to make an impact in his second game with his new team, scoring for the second straight game and finishing with three points.

“It’s what we needed, a quarterback back there, another one, to help facilitate that power play,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the defenseman, who has four points in two games since coming to Carolina from the Coyotes. “He obviously knows what he’s doing.”

Kotkaniemi was succinct in saying what Gostisbehere adds to the Hurricanes’ power play, which is 7 for 9 the past two games.

“A lot of goals,” he said with a smile. “I’ll leave it like that.”

On the other side of the Hurricanes’ onslaught were the Lightning, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion and one of the teams that traded their future for the present, adding Tanner Jeannot before the deadline. The loss was Tampa Bay’s fifth straight and came a day after coach Jon Cooper benched some of his top players for the third period of their 5-3 loss in Buffalo.

Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev were all injured at some point in the game, with Hedman leaving for the locker room, returning and then exiting again — adding injury to insult for the Lightning.

“We are just in a rut right now,” Cooper said after the loss to the Hurricanes. “At some point you just have to work your way out of it.”

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have outscored their opponents 12-1 since the deadline and don’t seem overly concerned — as a team with a 41-12-8 record — about what the teams around them did or didn’t do.

“I think there’s a reason why we’re top of the standings right now,” Kotkaniemi said. “We’ve got a hell of a group right here in the room, a couple of nice adding there, and I think we’ll be really good.

“Everyone trusts each other here, I think that’s the biggest thing. And I feel like you have too many guys might change their locker room a little bit. So I like what we have here right now.”

And Brind’Amour added that Gostisbehere’s early contributions helped with the deadline noise.

“The truth is gonna come later, right?” Brind’Amour said. “But it’s nice to have an early impression like that and quiet people.”

Sunday’s performance may have quieted the pundits, but it did little to quiet the standing-room-only crowd of 18,965 at PNC Arena.

“I guess we play a pretty good game then,” Teravainen said.