BOSTON — The Hurricanes looked lost in a shutout loss against Columbus last week without defenseman Jaccob Slavin.
In his return, they showed the Bruins just how much he was missed.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored twice during Carolina’s five-goal first period, Slavin added a goal and two assists after a two-game absence on the COVID-19 list, and the Hurricanes snapped Boston’s five-game winning streak with a 7-1 victory Tuesday night.
Teuvo Teravainen, Seth Jarvis, Derek Stepan and Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won two straight and seven of nine. They earned the win playing in their first road game in 17 days because of COVID-19 postponements.
The six-goal loss was Boston’s worst of the season.
Frederik Andersen had 31 saves for Carolina.
“It’s easy when the team plays that well to step back into it,” Slavin said. “Just play simple and the way I play.”
The Hurricanes’ early barrage caused the Bruins to pull goaltender Tuukka Rask in favor of Linus Ullmark after Rask allowed five goals on 12 shots in the first period. It marked the first time Boston had allowed five goals in the opening period since March 3, 2008, at Washington.
Ullmark played the rest of the way for Boston, stopping 20 shots. Patrice Bergeron had the lone goal for the Bruins, who were 1 of 5 on power plays.
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said he’s having trouble finding superlatives to describe what Slavin provides on a nightly basis when he’s on the ice.
“I think you get to a point where you just expect it,” Brind’Amour said. “It doesn’t seem like he missed a beat.”
Boston started the night on an emotional high retiring the No. 22 of Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first Black player, in a pregame ceremony.
The Hurricanes had all the energy when the puck dropped, skating through Boston’s defenders with little resistance at times and capitalizing on the Bruins’ lackadaisical puck handling.
“We just didn’t have it tonight and they were clearly much better than us,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Everyone watching could tell they were more competitive in every area of the ice.”
Both teams got boosts to their lineups, returning key defensemen off the COVID-19 list.
For Boston, Matt Grezelcyk was back after a two-game absence, along with Connor Clifton. But it was Slavin’s return that had the biggest impact.
Teravainen got Carolina on the board with his 11th goal of the season just 3:44 into the first period, ripping a snap shot into the net from the right faceoff circle off a feed from Slavin and Tony DeAngelo.
Kotkaniemi added another goal less than three minutes later off feeds from Svechnikov and Nino Niederreiter.
The Bruins briefly stopped the bleeding after one of the Hurricanes’ few mistakes in the period.
Svechnikov was called for interference on Boston’s Curtis Lazar and sent to the penalty box. Patrice Bergeron capitalized with his 12th goal of the season off assists from Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak.
It ended Carolina’s streak of 35 consecutive penalty kills — one shy of their record — which dated back to early December.
The Hurricanes bounced back 13 seconds later when Slavin pushed the cushion to 3-1 with his wrist shot in close.
Then with under four minutes left in the opening period, Jarvis corralled an errant Bruins pass, broke free along the boards and fired a shot into the right side of the net past Rask.
Just 56 seconds later, Jordan Martinook skated in hard, gathered a loose puck behind Boston’s net and flipped it to a cutting Stepan who put it away for the Hurricanes’ final goal of the period.
REILLY, NECAS TO COVID LIST
While the Bruins got back Grezelcyk, fellow defenseman Mike Reilly was added to the league’s COVID-19 list prior to the game. He joined defenseman Derek Forbort in the protocols.
Carolina played without Martin Necas after he went on the list Monday.
Hurricanes: Host the Rangers on Friday.
Bruins: Host the Capitals Thursday.