Carolina Hurricanes, in Whalers green, fight past Bruins 5-3

Hurricanes, in Hartford green, beat Bruins

Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho, who had two goals and two assists, says beating the Boston Bruins 5-3 on "Whalers Night" at PNC Arena on Dec. 23, 2018 was a big confidence-builder for the team.
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Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho, who had two goals and two assists, says beating the Boston Bruins 5-3 on "Whalers Night" at PNC Arena on Dec. 23, 2018 was a big confidence-builder for the team.

For the first time in their history, the Carolina Hurricanes did not wear Carolina Hurricanes uniforms in a game.

They wore Hartford Whalers uniforms. Green Hartford Whalers uniforms, with the distinctive Hartford Whalers logo on the front.

It was different, it was strange, it was exciting. The Boston Bruins were on the ice Sunday at PNC Arena, adding to the retro feel and ready to play the Carolina Hurricanes wearing Hartford Whalers uniforms.

In the old days, the Bruins often beat up the Hartford Whalers. They appeared on their way to doing it again to those in green, taking a 2-0 first-period lead, but the Carolina Hurricanes would not be denied this day, winning 5-3.

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour had Sebastian Aho centering Teuvo Teravainen and rookie Andrei Svechnikov -- the line many Hurricanes fans have clamored to see. The results were immediate as Aho and Teravainen both had two goals and two assists -- each with a shorthanded score.

Defenseman Justin Faulk scored his first goal since Oct. 22 and goalie Petr Mrazek gamely battled his way through the game, making 27 saves, for his sixth win of the season.

“The guys prepared today, they had their own little chat and it really got them ready,” Brind’Amour said. “You could see from the start they were engaged, even when we got down, and it was nice to see. The level of engagement, really for 60 minutes, it was there.”

It was a throwback to the Carolina Hurricanes’ past, when they once were the Hartford Whalers. Pucky the Whale, the old Hartford Whalers mascot, sounded the warning siren -- a pregame ritual for the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. Mike Rogers, once the Hartford Whalers captain, dropped the puck in a pregame ceremony, a faceoff “won” by Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams.

“Throughout the day I was kind of like, ‘I’ve never worn green’ but it was fun, it was cool,” Faulk said.

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Less than a minute into the game, Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook hammered the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo along the boards. Game on, just like the old days.

The Bruins (20-13-4) did quiet things as forward Ryan Donato scored on a first-period power play -- the first of his two goals -- and defenseman Steve Kampfer winged a long shot for a 2-0 lead after Boston had killed off a 5-on-3 power play by the Hurricanes.

“Down 2-0, I’m sure you get those thoughts in your head, ‘Oh, God, this again,’” Aho said.

Boston Bruins’ Ryan Donato (17) pushes the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek (34) with Calvin de Haan (44) nearby during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) Karl B DeBlaker AP

The Hurricanes fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Saturday and lost 3-0 as Sidney Crosby dominated play and Pens goalie Matt Murray thwarted every scoring chance. It was different this time.

“But the guys didn’t hang their heads, kept at it and we got a break,” Brind’Amour said.

Teravainen, on the right wing, attempted a centering pass from a tight angle, the puck hitting the glove of Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and tumbling past goalie Tuukka Rask.

“Sometimes, that’s what you need, a lucky goal,” Teravainen said. “A lucky bounce and you feel better. It’s those kind of things in the game of hockey that can turn things around.”

It did for the Hurricanes, who scored three times in the second. Aho scored shorthanded, off a Teravainen pass, his shot getting through Rask and trickling across the goal line.

Then it was Aho, again. Teravainen had the pass into the slot and Aho let it fly for a 3-2 lead. McAvoy was the foil on both, being separated from the puck by Teravainen on Ah’s first goal and by Aho before the second.

Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho (20) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) Karl B DeBlaker AP

When Faulk let one go from the point, after a faceoff win by Williams, it was 4-2 and the crowd of 17,491 in full throat. Donato would score again late in the second, but Teravainen and Aho eased the tension level seven minutes into the third as the Hurricanes looked to kill off a Micheal Ferland hooking penalty.

Rask misplayed the puck in front of the net, nearly allowing Aho to complete a hat trick, but Teravainen was there to whip in a shot.

It was the first time since a November 2013 game at St. Louis that the Hurricanes had scored two shorthanded goals in a game.

As the game neared an end, the fans stayed in their seats, awaiting the postgame celebration. The players lined up, did the claps, they dropped to the ice in somewhat of a straight line.

Which was?

“A beached whale?” Faulk said.

Whatever, Brind’Amour liked it. He also liked hearing “Brass Bonanza,” the old Whalers’ goal song, played five times.

“Love it,” he said.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.