Sebastian Aho helps Hurricanes prevail in OT to knock out Predators

Sebastian Aho his second goal of the night 1:06 into overtime and the visiting Carolina Hurricanes eliminated the Nashville Predators with a 4-3 win in Game 6 of their Central Division first-round playoff series on Thursday night.

Aho tipped in a shot by Jaccob Slavin from the point off a faceoff win in the offensive zone.

Carolina will play the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

Hurricanes prevail in OT

“I don’t think we played, especially in the first two periods, and obviously Nashville, they were good, but I don’t think we were quite there,” Aho said. “The third period was an unbelievable effort through the lineup, and obviously [overtime] as well. It just shows that there’s no quit in this team. We have that confidence that we’re still in the game, even though we were down going into the third.”

The last four games of the best-of-seven series all went to overtime. Only two previous Stanley Cup playoff series featured at least four consecutive OT contests: the 1951 Stanley Cup Final, in which the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in five straight overtime games, and a 2012 first-round series in which Phoenix and Chicago played five OT games in a row before Coyotes beat the Blackhawks 4-2.

Hurricanes prevail in OT
May 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Carolina Hurricanes players celebrate after the game-winning goal by right wing Sebastian Aho (20) in overtime to eliminate the Nashville Predators in game six of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Brock McGinn and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist, Slavin notched two assists and Alex Nedeljkovic made 24 saves for Carolina, the Central Division winner during the regular season.

Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist, Nick Cousins and Ryan Johansen also scored, and Juuse Saros made 27 saves for the Predators.

Predators fought hard

“They turned it up, for sure,” Johansen said. “But I think it was probably a little more on us and how we sat back and didn’t have enough poise and continue to make plays and have the pace we were having there in the second period, especially. That’s what we wanted to get back to in overtime, and obviously they scored early. They’re a great hockey team, they did some good things in the third to tie it up and win it in OT.”

The Predators protected a one-goal lead in the third period until Hamilton scored with 6:10 left off a feed from Slavin following a faceoff win to tie it 3-3.

Cousins got the Nashville crowd excited early by scoring on a redirection at 1:44 of the first period for a 1-0 lead.

McGinn tied it 1-1 at 4:21 of the first after winning a battle for the puck behind the Nashville net. He came out the other side, spun and shot in one motion for his third goal in three games.

The Predators also struck early in the second period.

Granlund remained in front of the Carolina net while the Hurricanes tried to clear the puck from their zone, and his decision paid off. Ryan Ellis intercepted the puck in front at the blue line and passed to Granlund, who made a move around Nedeljkovic and scored for a 2-1 lead at 1:13.

Nashville had a five-on-three for 19 seconds and Johansen scored with five seconds left to give the Predators a 3-1 lead at 7:32 of the second period, their first multi-goal lead of the series.

The Hurricanes went on their second power play and Aho scored at 13:34 to cut the deficit to 3-2 entering the third period.

–Field Level Media