Cary, NC — The Carolina Hurricanes split their midweek series with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the first game in a shootout while losing the second, 6-4, in what was the poorest defensive game of the season. The Blackhawks, like the Red Wings, are in a rebuilding mode having a very young team built on speed.
Tuesday: Canes Tame ‘Hawks 4-3 in Shootout
Coach Rod Brind’Amour was happy to have 4 starters return from Covid protocol but warned their timing and getting back in game shape may be an issue. How right he was. But, after what could be best described as ugly, a win is a win with the Canes shootout win streak still intact after a 4-3 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jaccob Slavin, Jordan Martinook, Warren Foegele and Teuvo Teravainen all got back in the lineup after spending a totally boring time stuck in their hotel rooms in Nashville. All returned to Raleigh over the weekend with just a couple of light skates without teammates before being thrown in the deep end against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks are rebuilding and have a young team with a lot of speed. While it’s hard to say Patrick Kane is one of the older players on the Blackhawks, he’s still an amazing player with unmatched stick handling skills.
Staal Feeds Both Svechnikov and Foegele For Talleys
Knowing the Hawks have speed, the Canes knew they had to use their own speed to start the game.
Early in the game, Brett Pesce was behind the using his body to protect the puck while making a backhand pass up to Foegs along the half boards. Foegs hit Jordan Staal with a pass just as he crossed the blue line, carrying the puck into the offensive zone.
Jordo used his left arm to ward off his defender holding the puck on his stick with just his right hand, took a quick look to the left, then sent a phenomenal one-handed pass that touched Foegs left skate but continued over to the top of the blue area of the crease where Andrei Svechnikov had a step on his defender to quickly tip the puck in for an early 1-0 lead.
Chicago Woke Up
Chicago hit another gear after the Canes goal as the ice seemed to shift towards the Canes end as the Hawks were getting off an unusually high number of shots. It didn’t help that the Canes got called for a couple of penalties in the period, one of which was by Hamilton, which may have saved a goal.
The penalty kill team continued to be very effective with special mention for the play of Brady Skjei, Pesce, Haydn Fleury and Brock McGinn as they all forced turnovers or crushed plays. Goalie James Reimer had his busiest period of the season as he stopped 13 of the 15 shots on net, several of which were grade-A chances.
The Canes made the most of their 9 shots as they scored on 2 of them. Late in the period, Svech had the puck poked away from him behind the net but Foegs was there to retrieve it, sending it up to Skjei on the left point. Skjei wasted no time sending it to the dirty area as Jordo’s big body was in front of the net.
The shot was blocked with Jordo picking up the bouncing puck, settling it, then made a nice dish to Foegs charging down the left of the slot. He took aim and put the Canes up 2-0 for his first of the year. After that score, the Canes seemed to have a let down while the Hawks did a gut check.
With Fleury off with a penalty, the Hawks had great passing, causing Martinook to lose his footing up high and allowing for a clear pass to Prius Suter who quickly passed to Philipp Kurshev, a star in the making, all alone and in front of Reims for a powerplay goal.
In the last minute of the period, Slavo made a rare misplay deep in his end that got onto the stick of Patrick Kane who buried the puck to tie the game with just 28 seconds left in the period.
Roddy couldn’t have been pleased with the performance for the first and had to stress for a little more forechecking and being tight on the defensive side of the puck.
While the shots in the second were close, 10 for the Canes and 9 for the Hawks, the Hawks had the better scoring chances.
The Canes’ best chance was by Svech on a partial breakaway, similar to one in the previous game in which he somehow got called for a penalty but not this night, however still didn’t score. Much of the game was played between the blue lines but when the play, either way, got serious, both goalies were sharp.
Reims made several key saves with Kevin Lankinen making many of his own. The momentum was certainly going in the Hawks’ direction, which did not go unnoticed by Brind’Amour.
Trocheck Snipes, Svech Wins It in the Shootout
Roddy had to stress to get back to the Canes game rather than chasing the Hawks. Easier to say than do as the Hawks were playing an excellent game.
The Canes got their only powerplay of the game in the third and never got anything set up like they’re capable of doing. Chicago’s speed on defense was the difference as they just wouldn’t allow the Canes any time or space. Shortly after the powerplay was over, Vincent Trocheck, who is becoming a force in the faceoff circle, won another faceoff to Lankinen’s left, sending it back up to Pesce.
Pesce wasted no time sending a hard shot on net with Nino Niederreiter slapping the rebound back from about 20’. Laninken made another save, kicking the puck left but right onto Tro’s stick who had 5’ of the 6’ available to knock in the go ahead goal.
A little over midway in the period the Hawks had the puck deep in the Canes end. Skjei was chasing his defender but collided with Martinook in the circle to the right of the goal. Dominik Kubalik passed the puck behind the net over to Alex DeBrincat who saw Dylan Strome knitting a sweater in front of Reimer for an easy goal that was textbook pretty.
Svech had 2 more partial breakaways in the final 6 minutes but wasn’t able to capitalize on either. The Canes’ second game in a row ended in a 3-3 tie so on to 3 on 3.
Shootout Lands in Canes Favor, Thanks to Svech
Jordo lost the initial faceoff forcing him to stay on the ice rather than switch with Sebastian Aho. The mixed lines may have played a small part but the Canes were chasing rather than attacking.
At one point, when Svech was behind the net, he had ideas of his patented ‘Svech LaCrosse’ type goal but the puck was moving too fast. He did get another breakaway but once again Lankinen stood firm. While the Canes got credited with 5 shots to the Hawks 3 in the OT, the Hawks had possession about 3-½ of the 5 minutes.
Roddy went with the same trio of Hamilton, Trocheck and Svech for the shootout, only mixing up the order.
Reimer stonewalled all 3 Hawk shooters including a stickhandling clinic by Kane. Tro and Hamilton were stopped, so it was all up to Svech. Svech came down just as he did 3 times during the game, powered on the right, cut to the center but this time the puck went in for the game-winner.
In the post-game interviews, Svech said he learned from his 3 attempts during the game so he knew what to do. Roddy on the other hand said, as his eyes got as big as hockey pucks, that he had to let Svech take a shot as “there was no way he was going to miss on a fourth try.” Call it good coaching. The rubber game is Thursday night and should be a good one.
Thursday: Canes Fall 6-4 in Rematch
James Reimer was back between the pipes after relieving Petr Mrazek in the previous game. Mrazek did have surgery on his thumb in Denver but is back in Raleigh. There’s no timetable for his return, but it could easily be 8-10 weeks.
The start of the game went according to Rod Brind’Amour’s game plan—keep possession, methodically enter the offensive zone, create traffic in the crease and get shots off. On the first real play, Sebastian Aho carried the puck in on the right-hand side. When two defenders closed in he dropped off a pass to Dougie Hamilton coming in with half speed.
Seabass switched positions with Hamilton going up to the point with Hamilton returning the puck to Fishy, then skated towards the high slot, saw that Brock McGinn and Andrei Svechnikov were camped out in front of the goal, picked a corner then let go a 40’ snap wrister that hit the net in a perfectly executed play.
The Canes let their guard down after that goal, conversely, the Hawks really picked up theirs. The Canes got sloppy on defense, resulting in 4 minor penalties of which the Hawks scored on 3.
For the two-game series, the Hawks scored 4 powerplay goals on 7 attempts. Impressive, but also very uncharacteristic defense for the Canes.
Niederreiter, Svechnikov Score within 8 Seconds
If anyone was late getting back from making popcorn during the intermission, they missed some fast scoring by the Canes as they got 2 goals in 8 seconds within the first 50 seconds. New game!
Nino Niederreiter and Martin Necas were in a scrum for the puck with Patrick Kane and Nikita Zadorov along the near board with Kane pushing the puck towards the center. Jacob Slavin snared the puck to the high slot as he saw the forwards going to the dirty area then simply flung the puck into traffic.
The puck glanced off Necas with El Nino picking up the loose puck, settling it, then putting a pretty backhander top shelf for a great looking goal. The Canes won the ensuing faceoff with Dougie Hamilton acting like a forward, bringing the puck across the blue line along the far boards.
Then, with a defenseman attempting coverage, took a shot that he knew would be blocked with the pads, which it was. The puck angled directly into Svech’s stick who beat his man to slap it home to tie the game. Set play and perfectly executed.
After getting off a game low 5 shots in the first, the Canes improved to 17 in the second but Kevin Lankinen was on his game. For all the goalies the Canes played against so far, this rookie from Finland is very impressive. After the quick goals in the first minute, the play was constantly back and forth with no further scoring.
McGinn Ties it Late But Canes Defensive Lapse Prove Costly
Early in the period, Kane was muscling his way towards Reimer with Slavin all over him trying to push Kane off the puck. Kane realized he was outmanned but the veteran pushed the puck towards the net with just his right hand with Slavin’s skate knocking in the puck just as he collided with Reimer.
Somewhat a controversial play that could have resulted in the collision that was caused by Kane, but the refs called it a goal. A few minutes later the Canes’ top line was back on the ice keeping the puck in the Hawks’ end. Brett Pesce was on the right point sending the puck along the boards to behind the net.
Fishy was first on the puck, making a greasy backhand pass to Ginner who put everything he had into a slap shot, falling backward just as the puck whizzed past Lankinen to tie the game.
DeBrincat Seals the Win for Chicago
In the 13th minute, the Hawks had the puck in the Canes end and were winning all the small battles. Alex DeBrincat won the puck along the boards and passed over to Kane, all alone on the right of the goal. Kane had all the time in the world and picked a corner, but Reimer was quick on the save with the puck going 15’ in the air.
Plus, Suter was 2’ in front of the net, caught the puck quickly put it on his stick for a shot. Reims made the pad save but on a defensive mistake of coverage, DeBrincat was all alone for a shot into a wide-open goal from the left side.
DeBrincat scored an empty netter, sealing the win and breaking the Canes 5 game winning streak. Two valuable points lost with the only positive to come out of the game was learning every game requires a full 60 minutes from every player on every shift.
The Canes special teams weren’t so special this game and that has to improve. Very late in the game, Necas landed on his head after being checked by former Cane Calvin deHaan and is going through concussion protocol as it looked like a nasty fall.
The next series is against Columbus with the first game Super Bowl Sunday at 3 followed by a Monday night game.
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