It wasn’t just Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour. Anyone on the Carolina payroll if asked why the team was struggling to score would say the same thing.
And that it did Saturday in St. Louis.
The Hurricanes found their scoring touch, getting goals shorthanded, on the power play, at even strength and into an empty net for a 7-2 win over the Blues.
“I feel like every game we had a lot of shots but we couldn’t really score,” Hurricanes forward Martin Necas said. “One little bounce and it turns around.”
Andrei Svechnikov, playing on his 22nd birthday, was one of seven different Hurricanes with two points, scoring twice to end his nine-game goal drought and help Carolina snap out of a funk in which they only scored 29 goals in the last 13 games and hadn’t scored more than three in a game since Feb. 25.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a relief, but I tried to work hard every game there and play my best,” Svechnikov said. “But I know goals will come for me.”
The barrage of goals for the Hurricanes had an unlikely start when Carolina took a penalty just 74 seconds into the game.
With Svechnikov in the box for holding, Martin Necas put on a one-man show, carrying the puck from the defensive zone into the Blues end, cutting wide and throwing a shot on net that hit St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk and went in for a 1-0 lead just 2:37 into the game.
“You’re not out there on the PK to score goals but always kill the penalty,” Necas said. “But when you have the opportunity, you want to score as well.”
Necas also assisted on Svechnikov’s second goal, an empty-netter with 4:55 left in the game that extended Carolina’s lead to 5-2 and gave the fourth-year winger his career-best 25th goal of the season.
Nino Niederreiter then got the team’s second goal into a vacant net for his 20th goal of the season — the sixth time in his career he’s reached that mark.
The Hurricanes even added another after that with Ville Husso (21 saves) back in the net when Ian Cole’s slap shot was redirected in by Seth Jarvis for his second goal of the game with just over two minutes left. It was Cole’s second assist of the night for his first two-point game with Carolina.
Jarvis, who scored 67 seconds into the second period when he snuck a shot past Husso, now has a pair of two-goal games in the last five and his third two-point game in that stretch.
In the other net, Antti Raanta had his eighth straight start with at least a .900 save percentage, stopping 30 of 32 shots to keep the Hurricanes’ game-long lead secure.
“When you score seven goals, you kind of have to win the game,” Raanta said. “At the end of the day, a good road game and we scored goals when we needed them.”
The win improved Raanta to 11-4-3 on the season and lifted Carolina to 43-15-7 on the season, giving the Hurricanes a five-point lead of second-place Pittsburgh with a game in hand.
“All season both goalies were unbelievable,” Necas said.” “He made some huge saves today. Our goalies are always there when we need them, and that’s huge.”
For the second straight game, a Hurricanes player was tagged with 17 minutes of penalties in one sequence for fighting.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, two days after Brett Pesce pummeled Dallas’ Vladislav Namestnikov after being elbowed, responded to a heavy hit on teammate Derek Stepan in the second period, rushing Alexei Toropchenko and connecting with a right in front of the Carolina bench to the cheers of teammates. He was assessed a fighting major, instigator penalty and 10-minute misconduct
“I don’t know what’s going on right now with him, but he looks like he’s gonna be the fighter more than a skill guy,” Raanta said sarcastically with a smile.
Kotkaniemi finished with a career-high 19 PIMs (he had a holding minor in the first period), matching Cole’s 19 PIMs from earlier this season and posting the most by a Carolina forward since Eric Staal had 26 penalty minutes at Colorado on Oct. 23, 2009.
“He’s an animal and he can fight,” Svechnikov said of Kotkaniemi. “You can see that. He’s one of those guys who’s going to step up.”
Notes: Pesce scored in the second period for his sixth goal of the season, one shy of a career high set in 2018-19. … Jaccob Slavin assisted on Necas’ shorthanded goal for his 30th assist of the year, matching his career best from 2019-20. … Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Jesper Fast all finished with two assists. … Pavel Buchnevick scored both goals for St. Louis.