Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, center, celebrates his goal against the Nashville Predators with right wing Andrei Svechnikov and center Vincent Trocheck, right, in the first period Wednesday night. Gerry Broome/Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sebastian Aho scored twice and Alex Nedeljkovic was sharp in net to lead a perfect showing for Carolina’s penalty kill, helping the Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Monday night in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series.

That lifted Carolina to a 2-0 lead as the best-of-seven series shifts to Nashville for Game 3 on Friday night.

Nedeljkovic finished with 32 saves for the shutout in his second playoff start. And he was under plenty of pressure considering the Hurricanes were called for nine penalties.

And yet, the Hurricanes – who had killed 22 of 23 penalties over the last nine games – turned away all seven power plays for the Predators despite playing without top-line defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

That helped Carolina cling to a 1-0 lead on Aho’s first-period goal, then Aho finally gave the Hurricanes some breathing room when he ran down a loose puck and scored an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third to make it 2-0.

Warren Foegele added a third goal in the final seconds, a rare success for Carolina against Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros.


Saros finished with 28 saves for Nashville, which is 0 for 10 on the power play in the series.

The Hurricanes won Game 1 on Monday, scoring three times in the final 20 minutes to break open a 2-2 game. That game included the first for the Hurricanes since the easing of public-gathering restrictions in the state, clearing the way for 12,000 fans to attend and create a rowdy and loud home-ice edge.

This time, that crowd was treated to a physical, feisty and penalty-filled contest in which neither team missed many chances to shove or tug on an opponent’s jersey after the whistle.

Slavin, a top-line defenseman for Carolina, has a lower-body injury that Coach Rod Brind’Amour has said will essentially make him a game-time decision for the foreseeable future.
He played 21:25 of ice time on Monday but couldn’t go on Wednesday. That meant major minutes for defensemen Brett Pesce (28:01) and Brady Skjei (27:44) to grind through this one.


BLUES-AVALANCHE: Game on for the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche after a coronavirus testing scare.


The NHL said it had investigated multiple positive COVID-19 test results from the Blues and Vegas Golden Knights from the same laboratory. The league said the results had “peculiarities and similarities” and found them to be testing errors.

The league said further testing came back “uniformly negative” and all affected players who were initially isolated out of caution and retested were eligible to play.

The announcement came only hours before Game 2 between St. Louis and Colorado in Denver on Wednesday night.

St. Louis had raised alarm bells about what General Manager Doug Armstrong called “discrepancies in COVID test results relating to multiple players.” Goaltender Jordan Binnington and forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz weren’t on the ice for the Blues’ pregame skate, and the team canceled media sessions for Coach Craig Berube and players.

St. Louis is the only one of the 16 playoff teams with any players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

Leading scorer David Perron, defenseman Jake Walman and forward Nathan Walker have been on the list since last week. All three remain on the list and were out for Game 2; Perron did not travel with the team for the first two games of the best-of-seven series against the Avalanche.


The Blues recently confirmed that Walman, who’s fully vaccinated, had tested positive for the virus after undergoing additional tests and was put in quarantine. Blues forward Zach Sanford was on the protocol list March 20-21 before further testing revealed a false positive.

The NHL began relaxing virus protocols last week for any team that had 85% or more of its traveling party fully vaccinated. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning was the only team to confirm it has reached that threshold.

ashington center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov returned for Game 3 against Boston on Wednesday night after being unavailable from May 4-15 because of virus protocols. Despite Coach Peter Laviolette saying “both these guys (are) just coming out of a long layoff,” Samsonov made his first start since May 1 because Game 2 goalie Craig Anderson was ruled out.

DEVILS: The New Jersey Devils hired former U.S. national team captain Meghan Duggan a manager of player development, making her the latest prominent women’s player to join an NHL team front office. Duggan joins fellow Americans Kendall Coyne Schofield and Cammi Granato and Canadian rivals Hayley Wickenheiser and Danielle Goyette in NHL coaching or management jobs.

Coyne Schofield joined Chicago in November as player development coach, Granato is a scout for Seattle and Goyette this week joined Toronto as director of player development when Wickenheiser was promoted to senior director in that department.

“It’s important and it’s exciting that a lot of these organizations are starting to see value in that diversity of experience, diversity of thought and perspective and what a variety of backgrounds can bring to an organization,” Duggan said by phone.


The Devils said Duggan will work with assistant general manager Dan MacKinnon in a variety of roles. Duggan expects to do “a lot of different things” in hockey operations and also get on the ice to help with skills training.

“Her successful track record as a teammate, leader, captain and driver of initiatives will be resources to all players in our organization,” GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We look forward to her utilizing her perspective of the game, attention to detail and creative thinking to help our players reach their potential.”

Duggan retired in October and at 33 is older than every current player on the Devils roster. “Just coming out of the game myself, I can hopefully relate to some of the players in a variety of different ways,” she said.


FLAMES 6, CANUCKS 2: Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and Calgary beat visiting Vancouver in the NHL’s regular-season finale.

The game was the third in a row between the teams to close the season after the Canucks’ schedule was pushed back by COVID-19 outbreak.

Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey, with his first career NHL goal, also scored for the Flames, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 19 shots. At 26-27-3, they ended up four points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot.

Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks. They finished last in the seven-team North, a point behind Ottawa.

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