Canes Split Series in Chicago

Cary, NC — The Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks split the two-game series in the Windy City with the Hawks taking the first game and the Canes winning the second.

Both games had the same script of tight-checking and no one taking a commanding lead with each game going down to the wire.

Canes Fall To Blackhawks, 2-1

Vincent Trocheck made it back into the lineup after missing 8 days with an upper-body injury, solidifying another line. But, despite completely dominating the first period, the Chicago Blackhawks struck for 2 quick goals in the second to hang on for the 2-1 win over the Canes.

Coach Rod Brind’Amour said before the game, almost as he says before every game about every opponent, the Blackhawks with some highly skilled players, are a team that like every team, cannot be taken for granted. 

Canes Do Everything Right In The First, But Score

The Hurricanes haven’t had a first period go so right for them in every category except the most important one: scoring.

Every aspect was textbook perfect — faceoffs, passing, total shots making shots on net, blocked and misses, forechecking in all 3 zones, getting positioning in the dirty area above the crease, winning faceoffs, crisp, accurate passes, running the cycle, you name it and the Canes did it.

Yeah, that little thing of putting the puck in the net was missing and you could just about hear Roddy say in the locker room during the intermission: just do more of the same as the pucks will go in the net. The only category the Hawks had over the Canes was hits recorded, as the Hawks had 10 hits compared to just 5 for the Canes.

Some teams, and in particular, some players just hit for the sake of delivering a hit, but many coaches and analysts will say hitting is a sign a team is lacking possession and they’re doing whatever they can to knock someone off a puck, interrupt a pass or clear someone in front of your goalie.

The Canes must have had possession for at least 15 of the 20 minutes in the period. Everything was going great. Except for scoring which rookie netminder Kevin Lankinen had an awful lot to do with. Lankinen has been very impressive in every game against the Canes. His vision is excellent and does a great job on the angles, anticipating shots getting in position just before the shot is being taken.

Dougie Hamilton got his first penalty in the first with the Canes penalty kill team highly effective in thwarting nearly every attempt the Hawks had entering the Canes end. Canes keeper, Alex Nedelkjovic, had a relatively easy first period as he faced just 5 shots with the Canes unloading a game-high 14 shots, of which many were class A scoring chances.

Svechnikov Redirects A Skjei Shot

Blackhawks coach, Jeremy Colliton, who is younger than a couple of his players, had to have a few stern words about being so outplayed by the Canes and being lucky to still be in the game and things had to change. If that was said, the Hawks responded as they scored early in the second.

Brady Skjei got control of the puck in his end and with both teams in the midst of a line change had time for an attempted pass up to Warren Foegele in the neutral zone. Foegs was covered by Connor Murphy along the boards knocking the puck to the neutral zone where Dylan Strome picked up the puck, settled it on his stick.

With Mattias Janmark on his left and only Brett Pesce on defense, Strome waited for the last second sending a wrister that Ned hit with his arm but not enough to stop it from entering the net with only 29 seconds gone in the period. Hamilton got his second penalty of the game for slashing, albeit a weak slash but it was a slash nonetheless.

After a scrum in the near corner deep in the Canes end, Jaccob Slavin gained possession passing backward to Pesce in the mid slot for a clear. Just as Pesch wasgoing to send the puck 175’ into the Hawks end, All-World Patrik Kane, lifted Pesce’s stick stole the puck then slid it over to Alex DeBrincat who popped it in for his team-leading 19th goal and a powerplay goal for what turned out to be the eventual game-winner.

The tide certainly changed from the Canes completely dominating to a 50-50 game that was very entertaining. Late in the period, the Canes got on the board. Trocheck won a faceoff in the Hawk’s end pulling the puck back to Skjei on the right point. Skjei skated across ice just inside of the blue line, going all the way to the near boards then flung a hard shot to the net.

While it first appeared the puck navigated its way through all the traffic, replays showed Andrei Svechnikov tipped the puck with the shaft of his stick directing it slightly then hitting Wyatt Kalynuk’s leg before falling in the net. Svech knew right away it was his goal but gave all the credit to Skjei.

Canes Stymied in The Third

The third period found both teams playing cautious but aggressive hockey. Aggressive in that all 3 forwards were attacking every rush to their respective scoring ends. The Canes defense probably pinched more, not necessarily because of the score, but more because the opportunities that existed and gave the Canes an extra scoring chance.

The forechecking went up a few notches by both teams as was evident by each teams’ game low shots on net with the Canes 7 to the Hawks 4. Jordan Staal didn’t get on the scoreboard which is unfortunate as he had a great game overall.

Jordo is never going to challenge Martin Necas for the fastest skater on the team but what he does off the puck goes unnoticed. He led the team with 6 hits and I would imagine getting a love tap by Jordo along the boards is something most opponents would rather not have to happen again.

Haydn Fleury was next on the hit list with 4 and he’s maturing more every game and making the scouting staff look good for drafting his 7th overall back in 2014. Like Staal, solid as a rock and when given the opportunity will have someone regret being on the receiving end of following through a check.

The Canes pulled Ned with right around 2 minutes to go but unlike the Blue Jackets in the past few games against the Canes, just couldn’t find the back of the net with the extra skater. The Canes couldn’t be happy with the end result, losing 2-1, but had to be pleased with the effort. This all makes for an interesting rematch for Thursday’s game. 

Canes Squeak Out Last-Minute Win, 4-3

Both Rod Brind’Amour and Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton predicted the second game would be very similar to the first and how right they were. The only change the Canes made was having James Reimer in net while the Hawks again had rookie sensation Kevin Lankinen between the pipes. 

Trocheck Opens Scoring

Both the Hurricanes and Blackhawks play a similar style of game with speed upfront and solid defense with the Canes having a slight edge on the offensive skill with their defense.

Future Hall of Famer Patrik Kane is about as complete a player you’ll find and even at the hockey ripe old age, really a misnomer, of 32 is ticking off between 20-25 shifts a night which is almost unheard of for a forward but is the same for the best forward in the NHL, Connor McDavid.

Like the game a couple of nights earlier, the Canes came out of the gate with the possession advantage and in an atypical change, were taking more opportunities to introduce the boards to any Hawk willing to get near the side. Over the course of the game, the Canes out hit the Hawks 33-17, highly unusual for a team dominating play and having that many hits.

The Canes’ Vincent Trocheck lit the lamp at the 9:48 mark of the first. Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce gained possession in their end, passing back and forth over the blue line. Pesch passed up to Jesper Fast in the neutral zone, went into the Hawk’s end dropping a pass to Hamilton.

Hamilton let go a shot from the right point that was blocked, Quickie snared the rebound passing back to Hamilton who looked to the goal then made a cross-ice pass to Troch at the top of the far circle. Troch waited for Andrei Svechnikov to get in the dirty area in front of the goal then sent a wicked wrister banging off the back pipe for the first of the game.

Late in the period, the Hawks were putting pressure on Reims with 3 quick shots that had Reims standing on his head and at one point chased the puck that went to the side of the net, with Reims completely out of the crease, the Hawks dropped the puck into the blue area of the crease that Jake Bean managed to swat away a nanosecond before Ryan Carpenter thought he had an open net goal.

Foegele Lights the Candle On His Birthday

Early in the second, the Canes had a goal that all 5 skaters played a part in.

On a faceoff just outside the Hawks blue line, Jordan Staal won the draw pulling it back to Jaccob Slavin. Slavo passed over to Hamilton who skated wide then rimmed the puck along the far boards with Nino Niederreiter winning the stick race about the goal line in the near corner tipping the puck to Jordo.

Jordo passed to Warren Foegele between the circle and boards with Foegs going left, then right, then centered the puck to Nino battling with Duncan Keith on top of the crease.

The puck hit Keith’s skate went to Lankinen who didn’t see the puck then Nino took a couple of whacks distracting the goalie allowing the puck to trickle in for a goal for Foegs on his 25th birthday. Late in the period, the Hawks got on the board.

The Canes cleared the puck where former Cane Calvin deHaan gathered it in his end passing over to fellow defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk. Seeing the Canes doing a poor job on a defensive line change, Kalynuk made a 90’ pass to the tape of Dominik Kubalik’s stick who had a step on both defenders putting a one-handed backhand pass past Reims that he had wanted back. 

Hawk’s Hagel Makes it a 2-2 Game

Brandon Hagel, #38 of the Chicago Blackhawks, celebrates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Canes.

Early in the third everyone on the ice had to think this was going to be a repeat of the game two nights earlier. The Hawks had the puck along the Canes backboards with the Canes unable to clear due to the excellent forechecking by the Hawks.

Kirby Dach somehow got loose with the puck passing it over to Brandon Hagel who quickly wristed a shot past Reimer to tie the game. The birthday boy, Foegele, got the Canes back on top less than 2 minutes later which is exactly how Rod called it.

The Hawks got possession behind their goal but Jordan Staal found a burst of energy and stole the puck along the near board. Jordo carried it to the near side of the slot passing over to Nino who let go a hard one-time slap shot. Lankinen made the save and unable to control the puck, saw it trickle to his left.

Foegele Lights Second Candle

Foegele was battling both the bouncing puck and his defender, turned his back then swatted the puck backward through his legs that found the net for the party prize his second birthday goal. The Hawks are in a battle for the fourth playoff spot and did what they needed to do and dig deeper.

A little over 3 minutes later, Kane brought the puck into the Canes’ end. The Hawks’ Mattias Janmark kept possession with Haydn Fleury all over him. Janmark passed up to Connor Murphy on the left point who tossed the puck to the net that Dylan Strome tipped in from 6’ out to tie the game, 3-3.

With Hamilton off for his second penalty of the game, a powerplay would tie it up, making it another nail-biter down to the wire. The Canes PK killed off that penalty, going 3-for-3 on the night with only having one powerplay. If anyone wanted to see a film about forechecking they only needed to watch the last 10 minutes of the game as both teams were just relentless.

Jesper Fast Nets Game Winner

Canes’ Jaacob Slavin, Jesper Fast and Sebastian Aho celebrate after the netted goal.

Everyone needs points but neither team wanted to go into overtime as points to other teams within the division is always messy. With about 40 seconds left in the game, Trocheck won a faceoff deep in the Canes end pulling the puck pack to Slavo who quickly passed it back to Pesch open below the goal line allowing for a smooth clear.

Pesch took a couple of strides, passing up to Quickie in the neutral zone who dropped a pass to a speeding Trocheck. Troch crossed the blue line on the right, skated through the mid-slot slowly taking aim which allowed Quickie to get in the front.

Troch took a shot that was partially blocked by deHaan fooling Lankinen who anticipated a hard shot muffled the rebound that allowed Quickie to smack home the game-winner with 29 seconds left. Tough game but a good win.

Fair chance the Canes may face the Hawks in the playoff and with 3 regular-season games between these two teams which all lines up for interesting games.

Story by Bob Fennel. Svechnikov photo by Ashley Kairis. Other images courtesy of the Canes public Facebook page and Blackhawks public Facebook page.

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