The Hurricanes aren’t going to go 82-0-0 this season, so it is a matter of when, not if, Carolina will lose in 2021-22.
But it wasn’t going to happen on Wednesday night in Chicago.
The Hurricanes scored the game’s final three goals to erase a two-goal deficit and killed off eight minutes shorthanded in the third period to beat the Blackhawks 4-3 and improve to 9-0-0 on the season.
Hurricanes rookie Seth Jarvis, playing in just his second NHL game, got his first career goal to start the rally, scoring on a breakaway on future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury at 12:50 of the second period to cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
Jarvis raced past Chicago’s Erik Gustafsson and closed in on Fleury, leaving the puck behind on a move from his forehand to his backhand and watching it slide through Fleury’s five hole.
“For the sake of this I’m going to say it was on purpose, but I can’t say that very confidently,” Jarvis said with a smile.
Carolina then scored on the first shift of the third period to tie the game.
After Jaccob Slavin intercepted a pass in the neutral zone to start an odd-man rush, the Carolina defenseman went cross-ice to Andrei Svechnikov. Svechnikov one-touched the puck to the slot, and Jesper Fast beat Fleury (27 saves) for his fourth goal of the year to tie the game 3-3.
Just over three minutes later, Sebastian Aho protected the puck in the Chicago end while Carolina executed a line change, and he later found Martin Necas at the top of the right circle for a quick wrist shot that trickled in and proved to be the game-winning goal.
“It’s instrumental on the game-winning goal right,” Brind’Amour said of Aho, “just buying time, hanging on to it and made a nice play.”
While the Hurricanes had seized the momentum, it was the Blackhawks who carried play the rest of the third — and Carolina helped by committing three penalties, including a double-minor for high sticking on Ethan Bear with 5:26 left that gave Chicago a final chance to tie it.
The Blackhawks outshot Carolina 12-7 in the third, including getting four power play shots on goal, but the Hurricanes’ penalty killers and goalie Frederik Andersen (28 saves) shut the door on a comeback.
“That’s way too much to give that team,” Brind’Amour said of all the penalties. “They had their looks. Our goalie was good. Freddie made some saves, but we had some huge blocks. That was obviously a crucial point in the game, and we came up big.”
Thirty minutes into the game, it looked like Carolina’s unbeaten streak was going to come to an end.
Chicago’s top snipers, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, combined for three goals, with the former getting his 12th and 13th goals in just 16 career games against the Hurricanes.
One bright light was Carolina’s fourth line. Center Derek Stepan tied the game 6:25 into the game by finishing off a play from Tony DeAngelo for his second goal as a Hurricane.
Stepan also sprung Jarvis on his goal in the second period, getting an assist for his first two-point game since before the pandemic — a 7-3 win with Coyotes over Tampa Bay on Feb. 22, 2020.
“They were good,” Brind’Amour said of the fourth line. “That line was solid, and great to see Jarvy get that one … really happy for the kid.”
Stepan said he expects even more from him and his linemates as the season moves on.
“My game’s coming. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the system,” Stepan said. “I’m getting more and more comfortable with the guys, and I really like the direction I’m going.
“And I want to be able to provide that in the role that I’m in and be able to do that on a nightly basis and be consistent with it. … Jarvy, he’s been fun to be with, and I hope the kid likes me.”
The Hurricanes have already set the bar high with their perfect start, and they could raise it even higher in their next two games. Carolina first travels to Florida to play the 8-0-1 Panthers on Saturday. Then it’s off to Tampa Bay to play the two-time defending champion Lightning next Tuesday.
“You look forward to it … but now the games just keep coming, and they’re always tough,” Brind’Amour said.
Notes: Brett Pesce crashed hard into the boards in the second period and, despite coming back to play shifts at the end of that period, missed all of the third. Brind’Amour did not have an update on Pesce’s status but said it was “good” that the defenseman was able to play a couple shifts after the incident. … Fast now has four goals on the season, just two shy of the six he scored in 46 games in his first season with the Hurricanes last year. … DeAngelo’s assist pushes his point streak to four games. … Svechnikov had two assists to increase his point total to 13 in nine games, tied for fifth in the NHL. Ten of those points are at even strength, tied for second in the league.