The Carolina Hurricanes allowed three first period power play goals to the Blackhawks and, despite coming back and tying the game twice, lost 6-4 Thursday in Chicago.
Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter, Andrei Svechnikov and Brock McGinn scored for the Hurricanes, and James Reimer lost for the first time this season, stopping 29 of 34 shots. Carolina dropped to 6-2-0 (12 points) with the loss, while Chicago improved to 4-4-4 (12 points).
1. Coach Rod Brind’Amour was disappointed with Carolina’s play Tuesday against the Blackhawks but said his team would take the two points and forget about it. Maybe they should have remembered.
While it wasn’t the same type of game Thursday, the Hurricanes were still off — and this time, they ended up with a loss.
“I think we were bad again today,” defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “We didn’t play how we want to play, our identity. … We need to be better, so it’s a little bit of a wake-up call for us, for sure.”
On top of allowing Chicago’s power play to run wild in the opening frame, Carolina shot itself in the foot with mistakes.
On the Blackhawks’ fourth goal, Jaccob Slavin was unable to contain Patrick Kane’s rush down the right wing and, after Reimer made an initial stop, Slavin kicked the rebound in the net and collided with the Carolina goalie. After review, it was ruled a good goal and the delayed penalty on Slavin was wiped away just over five minutes into the third.
On Alex DeBrincat’s winner at 12:22, the Hurricanes were so disheveled in their own end that Chicago had three Grade-A chances, the final being DeBrincat’s that he backhanded into an open net.
2. The penalty kill, which was so good before wheels touched down in Chicago earlier in the week, fell apart in two games against the Blackhawks. After allowing a goal Tuesday, the Carolina PK gave up three in the first period.
“We gave away the game in the first period,” Brind’Amour said. “If you can’t kill penalties, you’re not going to win.”
The Hurricanes’ power play, meanwhile, went 0-for-4.
“We got back in the game and then our power play just failed tonight,” Brind’Amour said. “Special teams are what the difference was tonight.”
3. Hamilton is just over a year removed from the surgery he had to repair a broken fibula. That’s plenty of time to recover, but it’s also worth considering he’s now played just 13 games in 12-plus months.
Furthermore, it’s been a disjointed 13 games. He missed the return-to-play series against the Rangers, then played five games in eight days in the 4-1 series loss to Boston in mid-August. Next up was the 4½-month offseason, then three games in five nights to open the 2020-21 campaign last month before the team was shut down due to the coronavirus.
That led to nine days without a game before Carolina resumed play Jan. 28. He played three games without Slavin — one of the COVID misfits — and has now had his partner back for two games.
That’s not exactly a recipe to get back into the groove.
“I feel fine. I don’t feel amazing,” Hamilton said after the game. “I know I can be better, and I’m trying to figure out ways to better and get a feel and get my game back to how I know I can play. I’ve played only, I don’t know, 14, 13 games in 12 months or something.
“So there’s some plays where I definitely feel I’m going to get better at. And I’m just trying to work every day and think about things and try to get into different spots and feel where I can be better.”
Number To Know
8 — Seconds between two Carolina goals in the first minute of the second period. Niederreiter got his fourth goal of the season 42 seconds into the middle frame, and right off the next faceoff Svechnikov scored off a feed from Hamilton.
It looked like Carolina would take over the game, but the Hurricanes scored only once outside of the first 75 seconds of any period — McGinn’s goal that tied the game at 4-4 came at 5:25 of the third.
They Said It
“I don’t think we’re a team that’s going to beat other teams by skill, but we’ve been working hard, buying into the system.”
— Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks forward
Brock McGinn, Hurricanes forward — The McGinn-Jordan Staal tandem up top on the PK was efficient, not allowing a goal while the rest of the unit was mostly in shambles. McGinn also scored for the second time in three games, falling while slinging the puck past Kevin Lankinen (30 saves) off an Aho pass.
While there are plenty of arguments to be made for other players as the third wheel with Aho and Svechnikov on Carolina’s top line, McGinn has at least made a case that he deserves another game or two running with the big guns before being relegated back to bottom-six duty.
Jaccob Slavin, Hurricanes defenseman — Slavin just hasn’t looked like himself since returning from the COVID protocol list. It was undoubtedly one of those nights when the box score doesn’t tell the whole story. Slavin finished with an assist and six shot attempts (one on goal) while being a plus-1 in 21:29. But Slavin, like Hamilton, was on the ice for all three of Chicago’s first period power play goals and was a high-event player Thursday — he was playing for eight of the game’s 10 goals.
An on-his-game Slavin would have neutralized Kane on his third period goal, but he instead kicked the puck in and also ran over Reimer — a moment that surely had the Carolina bench holding its collective breath given that Petr Mrazek was hurt by a teammate on a similar play just five days before.
Slavin, like Hamilton, will surely return to form, but the shortened season does bring with it more desperation to find team chemistry and cohesion.
Martin Necas left the game late in the third period after he hit his head on the ice following a hit by former teammate and current Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan. Brind’Amour said he didn’t have an update on Necas’ status and that he’s be reevaluated Friday. … The majority of game was called by just three officials after linesman Tony Sericolo left the game with an injury in the first period. The NHL called the decision precautionary in a press release. … Steven Lorentz was reinserted in the lineup in place of Morgan Geekie. Jesper Fast, who has resumed skating after being in the COVID protocol, missed a fifth straight game. He last played Jan. 18, the final game before Carolina had its COVID shutdown.