Hurricanes' Teravainen nears return from injury with East final looming

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Teuvo Teravainen's roughly monthlong injury absence appears to be near an end.

The Carolina Hurricanes forward has shed his no-contact jersey and participated in a full practice Monday ahead of the Eastern Conference Final against Florida. Teravainen hasn't played since he suffered a hand injury in Game 2 of the first-round series against the New York Islanders.

It's unclear exactly when he might be ready to play, though his return would be a lift for a team that has kept advancing despite injuries to top-line forwards.

“I think I'm pretty much ready to go,” Teravainen said after Monday's practice. “So whenever coach puts me out there, I'll be good.”

Rod Brind’Amour wouldn't say definitively when that would be, though he noted the extra rest from the series schedule — still unset as of Monday's practice — could help.

“He's healthy enough,” Brind'Amour said. “It's just whether or not he can play. ... I'm not going to throw him in if he can't shoot.”

Teravainen was hurt when New York's Jean-Gabriel Pageau struck the forward's hands in an uncalled slashing penalty, with an angry Brind'Amour saying afterward that Pageau “absolutely tomahawk chops him, absolutely.”

At the time, Brind'Amour had said Teravainen had a broken hand that would require surgery. More specifically, the injury turned out to be Teravainen's left thumb, evidenced by the thick pinkish-brown scar running through the center and along the length of his thumb that was visible as he spoke to reporters in the locker room.

He had recently returned to skating with a few teammates and had been building up his on-ice work. On Monday, that meant rotating in on the penalty kill and other stretches of practice.

Wednesday marks four weeks since the April 19 injury, with surgery following the next day.

“It's kind of crazy, I thought for sure I was done (for the playoffs),” Teravainen said. “But the doctors made a really good job and it looks like I'm getting back pretty soon. ... The boys have done a really good job playing really good hockey. It's tough to watch games from the outside. You always want to be helping, but they've done a really good job.”

The Hurricanes entered the playoffs with concerns about the offense after losing forwards Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov to season-ending injuries. Carolina had acquired Pacioretty in an offseason trade from Vegas to improve its scoring depth among the top six forwards, while Svechnikov is a physical presence who has been a core piece in the team's current five-year run of playoff appearances.

Teravainen's injury only compounded those worries as a top-line forward and strong passer who is also valuable on the penalty kill. But the Hurricanes have rolled along regardless in returning to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2019.

Carolina's penalty kill is ranked No. 1 among all playoff teams (90%), with the Hurricanes tallying more shorthanded goals (four) than power-play goals allowed (three).

As for the offense, Carolina has seen an uptick in its offensive production for the playoffs (3.64) from the regular season (3.20) behind a collective approach. That produced a dozen different goal scorers, including four players with three each, in the five-game series against the New Jersey Devils in Round 2.

Teravainen can only help both areas once Brind'Amour and team medical staff are certain he's ready.

“I saw he switched jerseys today so obviously a good sign,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said. “And just in general, him skating around, he looks great. I'm sure he's feeling good and starting to move towards getting in the lineup. ... He's been a big part of our group for a long time and he's a heck of a player, so we'll take him when we can.”

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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