RALEIGH — Despite coming into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Blackhawks with 13 points in 10 games, the Carolina Hurricanes were still searching for a few things early in this season.
They checked off a lot of boxes in their first home game two weeks.
Both power play units scored, Andrei Svechnikov had two goals, snake-bit Nino Niederreiter found the net for the first time this season, and Petr Mrazek got his second shutout of the year as Carolina got back in the win column with a 4-0 victory over Chicago in front of 15,738 at PNC Arena.
“We knew after losing the last three games that we’ve got to change something,” Niederreiter said. “And I think it starts with working hard and playing simple in our own zone and go from there.”
Niederreiter’s goal late in the second gave Carolina a two-goal lead and seemed to deflate the Blackhawks.
After a long shift in the Chicago end, the Hurricanes took advantage of the tired Blackhawks, with Niederreiter executing a shoulder-shake on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and wristing a shot off Chicago goalie Corey Crawford (27 saves) and in to make it 2-0 Hurricanes with just 46 seconds left in the middle frame.
“He’s a great defender, and with those D’s you’ve got to try to make him move and freeze him a little bit, and that’s what I had a chance to do,” Niederreiter said.
His goal was bookended by conversions from both power play units.
The Hurricanes got exactly the start they needed when, with Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith in the box for high sticking, Svechnikov fired a shot from the top of the left circle just five seconds into the game’s first power play to give the second-year winger his first non-empty net goal of the season, first career power play goal and a 1-0 lead at 4:17 of the first.
“It was kind of long. I couldn’t score last season,” Svechnikov said of finally getting his first career power play goal. “But yeah, it’s good that that’s happened and just have to keep going. Shoot more on the power play.”
Carolina added an insurance goal when the other power play unit got on the scoreboard.
Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho worked the puck below the goal line, and Aho found captain Jordan Staal in the slot for his second goal of the season 3:19 into the third period to make the lead 3-0.
“I loved the way we played in the third with the lead, still going after it but doing it right,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
He was also glad to see two of his high-scoring wingers get on the board with goals.
“Nino was good; got rewarded finally. Svech was good; he got rewarded finally,” Brind’Amour said.
And there was Mrazek (32 saves) making several sprawling saves to keep Carolina ahead when it was a one-goal game, with the crowd breaking out into “Petr! Petr!” chants with each dazzling stop.
“He’s an emotional guy, very competitive,” Brind’Amour said of Mrazek. “And I think it’s great, a great relationship between him and our crowd. They kind of feed off each other, and I think they know that he gets going when they’re kind of rooting him on.
It helps that Mrazek hasn’t lost at home since Feb. 3 — against the Calgary Flames, who make their lone visit to PNC Arena on Tuesday — a run of 13 victories at PNC Arena.
“I did not know that,” Brind’Amour said of the streak. “Glad I started him tonight.”
Svechnikov added a second goal with 1:11 left in the game, whacking in the puck from the goal mouth to deliver a final blow to the Blackhawks, who have scored just twice in the last 195:02 minutes.
“We had some chances,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Coliton said. “We didn’t score. We didn’t finish.”
Notes: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan played in Raleigh for the first time since Carolina traded him to Chicago this offseason, logging 21:01 with three shots on goal and three shots blocked. … Brian Gibbons, recalled by the Hurricanes prior to the game, was reassigned to Charlotte following the wina. … Staal won just three of 13 faceoffs. … Carolina converted both of its power play opportunities while killing all three Chicago power plays. … Aho finished with two assists. … Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce played his 300th NHL game.