RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes got into a groove after Micheal Ferland tangled with Austin Watson.
Aho had three goals and an assist to help Carolina beat the Nashville Predators 6-3 on Sunday.
The Hurricanes won for the seventh time in eight games. There was no score when Ferland fought Watson 8:19 into the first period.
“That set the tone,” Aho said. “We were all fired up after that.”
Ferland, who also had two assists, did the dirty work and Aho handled the scoring. With the early start, Ferland figured the team needed a shot of energy.
“Being an early game, you’re not really sure how you feel,” Ferland said. “I think it got everyone going on both benches. It was good.”
Justin Williams, Saku Maenalanen and Lucas Wallmark also scored for Carolina, which has won five straight at home. Petr Mrazek made 20 saves for his third win in four starts.
“That was one of our better 60-minute efforts all year,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought we played as solid as we could.”
It was the first hat trick of the season for Aho. The All-Star center has five goals in the past two games, running his team-best total to 21 for the season.
He credited linemates Ferland and Teuvo Teravainen for his recent surge.
“They’ve been feeding me,” Aho said.
Nashville, which had earned at least a point in seven straight games, got two goals from Filip Forsberg and another from Colton Sissons, but goaltender Pekka Rinne was chased in the second period.
Carolina had an advantage on special teams with two power-play goals. The Predators got a short-handed goal but went 0 for 5 on the power play.
Aho gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead with a breakaway goal 15:44 into the first period. Carolina got a break when the puck bounced off the skate off a Nashville player in the Hurricanes’ zone and defenseman Roman Josi fell down, leaving the ice open in front of Aho.
“We’re finally getting bounces,” Ferland said. “We haven’t changed the way we play.”
Maenalanen made it 2-0 with a one-timer from the slot at 18:15 off a nice feed from Justin Faulk.
The Predators cut Carolina’s lead to 2-1 with Sissons’ goal 2:48 into the second period, but the Hurricanes responded with three straight scores.
Aho got a beautiful backhanded pass by Ferland and scored a power-play goal at 3:08. Wallmark caught Nashville in a line change 8:35 into the second, and Williams chased Rinne with a power-play goal at 10:11.
Forsberg scored the next two goals. He had a short-handed tally in the second and then scored again 13:33 into the third to cut Carolina’s lead to 5-3.
NOTES: It was Aho’s second career hat trick. … Williams, in his 18th NHL season, matched his career-best scoring streak with a goal in five straight games. … Left wing Phillip Di Giuseppe played 21 games with Carolina this season. He was claimed on waivers by the Predators on Jan. 1 and played his third game with Nashville on Sunday. … The Hurricanes improved to 7-0-2 in their black alternate jerseys this season.
Predators: Host Washington on Tuesday night
Hurricanes: Visit the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
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