Hurricanes overwhelm Blackhawks in 6-3 win

Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi celebrates his goal with teammate Stefan Noesen during Carolina's 6-3 win Monday in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Hurricanes dominated the lowly Blackhawks and won their third straight game, finishing with a 6-3 win Monday at PNC Arena.

Six different players — Michael Bunting, Martin Necas, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Sebastian Aho, Brent Burns and Jordan Martinook — scored for Carolina, and Aho, Necas and Seth Jarvis all had two points. Spencer Martin improved to 3-0 with the Hurricanes by stopping 14 of 17 shots.

Three observations

1. Playing the Blackhawks — who have now lost 20 straight games on the road — is as close to a sure win as you’re going to get in the NHL, so Carolina cruising to an easy win wasn’t surprising.

Perhaps most important, beyond the two points, was getting a couple of players out of their funks. Kotkaniemi scored his first goal in exactly two months, snapping a shot past an under-siege Petr Mrazek (36 saves) to end a 22-game goal drought.

Aho hasn’t had anything like those droughts, but he did have multiple points for the first time since Jan. 24, a stretch of eight games during which he had just four points.

Aho’s goal was his 20th of the season, giving him at least that many in all eight of his NHL seasons. Only Ron Francis (14) and Eric Staal (9) have more years with 20 or more goals in franchise history.

2. After the Hurricanes blitzed the Blackhawks in the opening three minutes, Carolina was called for back-to-back penalties that led to more than 100 seconds of 5-on-3 time for Chicago.

Martin and the Hurricanes shut the door on any early momentum for the visitors. Carolina mostly limited the Blackhawks to the outside, and the two chances they had — one by Tyler Johnson, the other by Ryan Donato — were denied by Martin.

“It was a good start and then a couple penalties there,” said Aho, who mentioned he had already forgotten about the big early sequence. “And obviously a big kill there, and after that we kind of were able to take over.”

Hurricanes coach Brind’Amour also needed reminding about the early-game kill.

“I almost forgot about that,” Brind’Amour said of the kill. “That was a crucial part of the game.”

Six minutes later, Bunting opened the scoring with a backhand off a Necas behind-the-net feed and the rout was on.

Carolina ended up outshooting Chicago 42-17, and the 5-on-5 five shot attempts were a jaw-dropping 61-27.

3. Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield did not play due to an upper-body injury, with Tony DeAngelo getting back in the lineup for his third game in the last six.

DeAngelo finished with 13:54 of ice time with two shots on goal, three shot attempts and a plus-2 playing with Brady Skjei.

Brind’Amour said Chatfield’s injury was a result of the hit he took from Ivan Barbashev in Carolina’s win over Vegas on Saturday.

“He could have maybe played,” Brind’Amour said, “but again, we’re in that situation where if guys aren’t quite right they’re not going to go. So it’s easy to just give them the night off.”

Number to know

7 — Shots on goal for Bunting, a game high and the most he’s had since joining the Hurricanes. It was one short of the career-high eight he had April 16, 2022, with the Maple Leafs in Ottawa.

In regular season games when he has at least five shots on goal, Bunting has scored in 12 of 17 with a total of 17 goals in those games.


Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Hurricanes center — Kotkaniemi ended a 12-game point drought in Vegas and then got the goal drought monkey off his back Monday.

“I felt the goal was gonna come as long as you work hard and do the simple things right,” Kotkaniemi said of ending his drought.


Hurricanes penalties — Carolina’s penalty kill was key at the beginning of the game, so allowing two third period goals can be forgiven. What shouldn’t be are the penalties the Hurricanes took in the final 20 minutes.

Up 5-1 with under 18 minutes left in the game, Carolina took a pair of tripping penalties that gave Chicago life when Connor Bedard scored on one power play and had the primary assist on the other. The Hurricanes’ mindset is all about aggression, but there are times when dialing it back can be accepted. Carolina didn’t, and it made things more interesting than necessary.

They said it

“It’s not like I was hunting him down.”

— Sebastian Aho on his reverse hit on Chicago rookie Connor Bedard. Aho said he didn’t know it was Bedard he was hitting on the play.