The Chicago Blackhawks were rocking from the get go and jumped on the Carolina Hurricanes early, then finished the weary visitors off in the third period as the Stanley Cup Champions defeated the Canes, 5-2 on Friday night at the United Center.
It was Chicago's seventh consecutive win.
Just 55 seconds into the game, Cory Stillman got caught holding the puck too long in his own end and had it stolen. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp broke in alone on Justin Peters and Toews scored on the first shot of the game.
The Hawks were still buzzing but the Canes were able to tie things up on their first shot as well on a score by Eric Staal.
Later in the period, Chicago jumped back ahead, 2-1 when Bryan Bickell knocked one in from in close after defender Jamie McBain lost his stick.
The Canes had a rough time in the period as they were doubled up on shots, (9-5), and dominated in the faceoff circle. But they came back strong in the second period and played the home team to a scoreless draw and tied them in shots, 9-9.
After a couple of decent chances early in the third, the wheels fell off for Carolina though as Chicago scored three straight goals in less than five minutes to take a 5-1 lead.
To the team's credit, they did not roll over and play dead the rest of the game. Jeff Skinner would score his 23rd of the season as he battled his way to the front of the net to get his stick on a Joe Corvo shot.
Bryan Allen dropped the gloves with Troy Brouwer with less than five minutes in the game. The club showed heart, but they were out-matched by a hot team which was clicking on all cylinders on this night.
Justin Peters had some good moments -- as well as some bad -- but the goalie had not started a game since January 9 and it's only reasonable to expect him to be a bit rusty. It's a catch 22 because Cam Ward can't start every game, but your backup can't start one game every two months and be expected to be sharp. There are no easy answers for this problem.
The Hurricanes dropped back to eighth place because the Rangers won tonight and jumped back ahead of them by one point.
Carolina will now have four days off to rest as well as prepare for the home stretch. The next game is Wednesday night against Atlanta at the RBC.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- The Canes are 9-2-4 in the first games of back-to-backs and 6-8-1 in the second games.
- Not only was Chicago hot, they were playing a tired team that traveled a fair distance to play the second of a back-to-back. The schedule has been pretty tough on the Hurricanes this season.
- Justin Peters made 24 saves on 29 shots.
- That makes two games in a row the Canes held an opponent to under 30 shots. It might not seem significant now, but if they can continue to limit shots against, it bodes well for the future.
- The Canes outhit the Hawks 27-15. Cole, Allen, Dwyer, and LaRose led the way with three each.
- Jay Harrison had a team high three blocked shots. The team had eight for the game.
- Harrison and Allen really look strong together on the penalty kill. They were moving bodies and blocking shots. Harrison made a couple of especially nifty plays and saved one goal right along the goal line.
- The team faceoff percentage was atrocious, (29%). Staal had a team high 48%, Skinner was 0 of 12, Jokinen 0 of 5, Dwyer 3 of 8, and Sutter 4 of 15.
- The Canes only had 20 shots on goal led by Ruutu and Skinner with three each.
post game interviews: