RALEIGH, NC – After a tough loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings last Thursday night in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes had the All-Star Break to figure out how will they come out firing in the second half of the 2016-17 NHL season, and in tonight’s match-up at PNC Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers, it would have to be rookie sensation Sebastian “SeaBass” Aho that would put his name in the spotlight as his first-ever NHL hat trick would be part of the Hurricanes 5-1 win over its Metropolitan Division rivals as the Hurricanes would improve to 22-20-7(51 points), as they now find themselves 5 points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot.
“He’s a good player, he can play multiple positions up and down the lineup, so he’s coming for sure.” said Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters on Aho, who was the game’s number one star in the win.
Aho’s night would get started at the 7:11 mark of the opening period of action, as Jordan Staal, who was playing in his 300th game as a Hurricane, would find Aho as he would cut through the slot and scored at the left post to beat Flyers goalie Steve Mason(L, 23 saves on 28 shots) to give Carolina an early 1-0 edge. A few moments later at 16:37 of the first, Aho would make it a 2-0 advantage, as he would start a give-and-go inside the blue line with Elias Lindholm, and Aho would finish it with a one-timer through mason to increase the Hurricanes lead entering the first intermission. “It was a fun night, and I mean every two points are important right now, and it was a big win for us and we needed this.” Aho said.
The Canes would pick up where they left off in the second period of action, as Jeff Skinner would score his 18th goal of the season, after Lee Stempniak would set things up nicely, and Skinner would finish with his goal from the left face-off circle to give Carolina a 3-0 lead, and after the Flyers Claude Giroux was called for roughing, the Canes would go on a power play opportunity, and Aho was the man of the hour that would as he would receive Lindholm’s pass and fire it underneath the crossbar for his third goal of the night to make it 4-0 Hurricanes, and the announced crowd of 13,577 would toss their hats onto the ice to signal his hat trick as he becomes the first Hurricanes rookie to score a hat trick since Erik Cole did it back on December 21st, 2001 against Atlanta, and Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort at all. “That’s a disappointing way to start coming off the break, that would be the one game that we will address from top to bottom, and there were a lot of causes to that, not one.” quoted Hakstol, whose Flyers fall to 25-20-6(56 points) and are holding on to dear life in the race for the second wild card spot.
“The break obviously came at a good time for us, we were on a bit of a skid there, and we had a good game tonight, so we’re gonna build on this one.” said Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner. “Against teams in our division and teams you are chasing, and with two big points on the line, we got to bear down and try to come away with games like we did tonight.” It would be a 5-0 lead for the Hurricanes in the third period, when the Hurricanes took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity, and Justin Faulk, who was playing in his first game back from representing the Metropolitan Division in the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles this past weekend, would beat Mason with a slap shot from above the right circle for his 10th goal of the year at 5:10 of the third period. The Flyers lone goal of the night came at the 10:27 of the third, as Brayden Schenn would spoil the shutout bid for Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward(W, 15 saves on 16 shots) with his power play goal, which was good for his 16th goal of the season to make it a 5-1 game, as Carolina would prevail in tonight’s win at home in Raleigh.
Carolina returns to action on Friday night as they welcome in the Edmonton Oilers, who are coming off a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild tonight at Rogers Place, to PNC Arena(7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Carolinas, Hurricanes Radio Network).