RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Andrei Svechnikov’s strong play across the past month has been rewarded with rising numbers for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Svechnikov had two goals and an assist as the Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Friday night.
The 21-year-old right wing has eight goals and three assists in the last eight games.
“He’s getting the results,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I think he has had stretches where he has played this well, the puck wasn’t going in. Where he’s getting these same amount of opportunities, now the puck seems to be going in a little more for him.”
Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi also scored for the Hurricanes, who improved to 2-2-2 since the All-Star break. Martin Necas and Sebastian Aho added two assists apiece. Frederik Andersen made 28 saves.
Luke Kunin, Filip Forsberg and Tanner Jeannot scored for the Predators, who are 0-4-0 since the break. Roman Josi had three assists and Juuse Saros stopped 25 shots.
With both his goals coming on power plays in the third period, Svechnikov took the team lead with 22 goals.
“It’s awesome when you’re doing those things,” Svechnikov said. “I try to focus on the hard work.”
Two of Svechnikov’s three three-point games this season have come in a nine-day period. He has 21 points in the last 14 games.
“We all know what he’s capable of,” Necas said. “He’s a great player and he’s showing that.”
Still, a three-goal lead nearly wasn’t safe for the Hurricanes.
Forsberg’s goal came with 5:23 remaining, just 24 seconds after the Predators pulled Saros for an extra skater. That cut Nashville’s deficit to 4-2.
It worked again on Jeannot’s goal with 2:11 remaining before Svechnikov’s empty-net tally with 41.5 seconds left.
“We made it into a game,” Forsberg said. “We have something we can take with us.”
Nashville’s previous two losses came by three-goal margins and this one appeared heading that way.
“I think there’s great things we have done in every game, but at the end of the day there are things we have to do to win the game,” Forsberg said.
Skjei scored the game’s first goal at 10:24 of the first period after it took the Hurricanes about nine minutes before putting a shot on goal.
Kotkaniemi collected a rebound of his own shot and scored to make it 2-0 at 5:14 of the second for his first goal in a month.
Kunin’s first goal in six games came with 1:22 remaining in the middle period. However, Slavin restored Carolina’s two-goal edge with 1 second to play in the period.
Svechnikov’s power-play goal at 6:43 of the third pushed the Hurricanes’ lead to 4-1.
MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN
Predators coach John Hynes said a change in flow was needed so that’s why he went with a sixth skater so early.
“Getting three goals where that was in the third period, that’s hard to do 5-on-5, particularly the way the game was going” Hynes said. “We thought that was an opportune time for us to try to at least gain some momentum.”
Suddenly, it was a one-goal game – not something the Hurricanes enjoyed.
“That’s one of our strengths in the past, we’ve been good at 6-on-5 and good at closing out games,” Skjei said.
The Hurricanes also gave up a goal to the Florida Panthers, who went with an extra attacker Wednesday night, in the final minute of regulation in what became an overtime loss. The timing of the Predators’ move to pull Saros didn’t surprise Brind’Amour.
“You see it more and more now,” he said of the strategy. “Teams are pulling way earlier.”
Nashville center Ryan Johansen’s assist on Kunin’s goal gave him 500 career points. … Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left with an upper-body injury after the first period and didn’t return. … Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki didn’t play after logging four shifts in the first period. … This was Carolina’s second and final home make-up game from December postponements.
Predators: At Florida on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: At Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.