RALEIGH — Starting with the 1980-81 season and through the rest of that decade, the Hartford Whalers scored an average of about 3.5 goals per game and allowed nearly four goals against.
While the Carolina Hurricanes donned the Whalers’ green and blue for a second straight season on Saturday night for ’80s Night in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena, what happened on the ice looked nothing like the hockey from four decades ago.
Goaltender James Reimer battled dehydration and stopped 41 shots for team’s second shutout in as many nights, and Nino Niederreiter scored in the first while Teuvo Teravainen added an empty-netter in a frantic final minute in Carolina’s low-scoring 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
“We were able to squeak that one in early and just grind, and so kudos to these guys on the back end of a back-to-back,” Reimer said.
The grind came much of the final two periods but culminated in the final minutes with Kings goalie Jack Campbell (28 saves) on the bench for an extra attacker.
Los Angeles’ barrage of shots — totaling 17 in the third period — left Reimer face down on the ice for about a minute battling dehydration after he froze the puck with just under 30 seconds remaining.
“I’m surprised he didn’t cramp up earlier, the amount of action he saw,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Reimer shook it off — and fended off the Kings’ attack, with the help from the post — and finished off the shutout, his third of the season with Carolina.
He answered questions after the game with a big smile and a frequently interrupting cough.
“It’s just what it is in January,” Reimer said when asked if he’s been under the weather. “You just find a way. You just grind. It doesn’t matter how you’re feeling, what’s going on. You just work and try to find a way.”
Reimer’s shutout came a night after Petr Mrazek made 32 saves in a 3-0 shutout win at home against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Hurricanes, however, still needed some goal support to get the two points — and the only one they’d need came less than five minutes into the game.
Stuck on just five goals on the season, Niederreiter opened the scoring after some hustle and nifty passing from his line.
Center Sebastian Aho nullified icing by retrieving an errant stretch pass, then dropped a pass to Teuvo Teravainen in the slot. Teravainen tapped the the puck to Niederreiter to Campbell’s left, and Niederreiter sent it right back to his opposite winger.
Teravainen’s shot was stopped, but it hit a Kings defender and the puck was there for Niederreiter to push into the open net, ending an eight-game goal drought.
“You always second guess yourself and do different things,” Niederreiter said of his frustrating season which has included four stretches of at least seven games without scoring. “It was definitely nice that the puck came back to me even though I should have shot it first.”
Even happier than Niederreiter may have been his teammates.
“Honestly, he’s working so hard, he’s a great guy, and he plays the game the right way,” Reimer said. “When you’re snakebit, you’re snakebit. But it was good to see him get one tonight. With a guy like that, it’s just a matter of time.”
Teravainen’s empty-net goal with four seconds left sealed the win — and gave the Hurricanes a 5-2-0 record on their season-long seven-game home stand.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to make hay while the sun is shining,” Niederreiter said. “It’s a tough stretch coming up for us, so we’ve got to make sure we get every single win we can.”
Notes: Dougie Hamilton was credited with four hits and five blocked shots, both team-highs. … The game was the Hurricanes’ seventh sellout at home of the season.