In the backdrop of the festivities of the NC State Fair, the Carolina Hurricanes deep fried the Chicago Blackhawks by a final score of 4-0.
With a combination of perfect play from both starting goaltender Petr Mrazek, who stopped all 32 shots he faced, and special teams, which went 2 for 2 on the power play and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill, the Hurricanes cruised to an easy victory in the 1 p.m. matinee match.
The game was pretty evenly matched, but the Canes just kept pulling away more and more thanks to the efforts of Mrazek and the defense, which was credited with 20 blocked shots.
“We had our moments that weren’t great, but overall, I thought it was a pretty solid game from start to finish,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Second period was a little iffy, but not terrible. I loved the way we played in the third with the lead, but still going after it and doing it right.”
The Hurricanes struck first and early again, less than five minutes into the first period as Andrei Svechnikov finally got his first non-empty-net goal with an absolute bullet. On the power play, Svechnikov skated it to the top of the left circle and let go a heavy wrister which cleanly beat Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford top corner stick side.
The power-play goal is also Svechnikov's first of his career. Last season, Svechnikov scored all 20 of his goals at even-strength situations.
“It was kind of long [time],” Svechnikov said on finally scoring a power-play goal. “I didn’t score [a power-play goal] last season. It’s good that it’s happening now and just have to keep going and shoot more on the power play.”
Also always part of the play, defenseman Dougie Hamilton got the primary assist on the goal to extend his own point streak to four games. It has been a calendar month for Hamilton who became the first NHL defenseman to score six-plus goals in October since 2006 and the first in Hurricanes franchise history since 1980.
After the first ended with shots tied 12-12 but Carolina up 1-0, the Blackhawks came out buzzing in the second period, but a combination of smart defensive play by the Hurricanes and outstanding goaltending by Mrazek kept Chicago off the board.
In the final minute of the second period, Carolina got its own offense going with an extended shift in the Blackhawk’s zone. Finally getting on the board with his first goal of the season, previously snakebitten forward Nino Niederreiter froze Brent Seabrook with a shoulder fake and skated to the dot on the left circle where he sniped it past Crawford.
“It’s very tough not getting frustrated,” Niederreiter said. “You just try to stay with it. When you don’t score you try to change something which you probably shouldn’t do. You should try to just keep your game and sometimes you do too much or think about too many things but I’m happy to finally get one in and get that off my chest.”
The captain joined in the fun in the third period as Jordan Staal was all alone in the slot on the power play. A quick heads-up pass from Sebastian Aho in the corner found its way right to Staal who wasted no time in sending it right past Crawford.
With time running down and the final minute call made, the Hurricanes found time for one more. Aho battled off of a Blackhawk defender, moving the puck out from behind the net to the crease where Svechniov collected his second goal as the puck bounced off of another Chicago defender and across the goal line.
“The thing about coaching is you are kind of always looking for the stuff that is not right, but I loved the compete,” Brind’Amour said. “Our group has been competing hard all year, we’ve just had some lulls and things in the way we play, but the guys come to work every day and they give it what they can.”
The Canes will continue its homestand Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. as they take on a few familiar faces with the Calgary Flames