Hurricanes down Capitals 2-1: Game 4
Teuvo Teravainen was so open, he wasn’t about to question why.
Teravainen’s goal, off of a perfect pass from Nino Niederreiter, with 27.9 seconds left in the second period proved to be the difference in Game 4 on Thursday.
The Carolina Hurricanes edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 to even the series at 2-2.
Just don’t ask Teravainen the details about how he got so open.
“Actually, I don’t know what happened there,” Teravainen said. “I saw Nino got the puck and I was a little open, so I just took a couple of steps and I got a pretty good chance.”
After Washington had dominated the second period, and tied the game at 1-1 on Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 10:35, it looked like the game would go to the third period tied.
But the Canes caught the Caps in a late line change and Sebastian Aho got the puck in Canes’ zone from Dougie Hamilton.
“Great play by Dougie, it all started with him,” Aho said. “They were chasing and I got some open ice in the middle.”
Aho skated towards the blue line on the far boards and attracted three Washington players. Aho dropped the puck to Niederreiter.
“It was a great play by Aho to speed through the middle and drop to me by the blue line,” Niederreiter said. “I had a chance to find Turbo down the middle.”
Teravainen sped into the Washington zone and Niederreiter put the pass right on the tape of his stick. Washington forward Andre Burakovsky tried to chase Teravainen down from behind but he was too late to help goalie Braden Holtby.
Teravainen didn’t waste any motion. He went to his forehand and beat Holtby to the glove side.
Suddenly, the complexion of the game changed. It was the type of end-of-half (or period) momentum-changer Dean Smith would have loved.
“That just can’t happen,” Washington defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler said. “Especially before you go to the intermission, you’ve just got to get it out and play simple. But it didn’t happen and they scored.”
The goal was the first for the reunited forward combo of Aho and Teravainen. The two Finns have played regularly together in the past but were split up in the second half of the regular season.
After the Canes struggled to get their top lines going in the first two games of the series in Washington, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour put them back together.
In Monday’s 5-0 rout, the Canes didn’t need much from their two top scorers from the regular season. They did each have an assist in the win.
With the game tied at 1-1 on Thursday, and all of the momentum on Washington’s side, the Canes best players came through in the clutch.
“I think we played a solid two games,” Aho said of his line. “First of all, we’ve defended well. That’s how it has all started. We’ve just trust that we’re going to get our one or two chances a game and we’re going to bury them.”
Aho broke his long scoring drought, 15 games, in Game 2 with a goal. Teravainen’s goal on Thursday was his first of the playoffs.
“It’s a just a big goal overall,” Teravainen said. “Any goal is a big goal, especially since I took a penalty and they scored. It’s good to get on the board after.”
Big goal. Now the series is even with the Canes headed to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday. Just don’t ask Teravainen how he did it.
“I got pretty lucky,” he said. “I just closed my eyes and put it in.”