The Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t fight back last night to even with the Chicago Blackhawks after falling down 2-0 in the first two periods, eventually losing 2-1 despite outshooting Chicago 40-24. Backup goaltender Scott Darling, who played in Raleigh last week, looked impressive all game in net for the Hawks. He stopped 39 of the 40 shots he saw.
Chicago opened the scoring with an impressive tic-tac-toe play finished off by captain Jonathan Toews just 12 minutes into the first period. The Hurricanes saw plenty of chances to light the lamp in the first period, especially on the power play, but lights out goaltending from Scott Darling kept them off the scoresheet. Bill Peters noted the missed opportunity:
We needed to get one there in the first. We had a lot of chances in the first, some odd-man rushes and a couple power plays, we needed to get on the board there.
After an otherwise uninteresting first period, last season’s Rookie of the Year Artemi Panarin notched his 16th goal of the season with the help of Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith 13 minutes into the second on a Hawks power play. With just 5 seconds left in the second period, Victor Rask finally got the Canes on the board finishing a rebound on a Skinner shot.
After two periods, the Canes had put 30 shots on goal to Chicago’s 16, but they were still down 2-1 where it counts. Early in the third, Doctor Derek Ryan rang a puck off of the post, but that would end up being the closest the Hurricanes would come to tying the game. Darling did the rest, stopping 39 shots and only allowing the one goal.
Special Teams Short-Circuiting
The Canes’ penalty kill has been their calling card all season, but we may be starting to see it regress to the mean a bit. The PK is just 9 for its last 13, a 69.2% rate that’s nearly twenty points below its season-long number, and has allowed power-play goals in three of the past four games.
More concerning is the continuing sputtering of the power play, now 1 for its last 24 and goalless in eight of the past nine games. Special-teams scoring (and defense) is such an important component of success that the Canes can’t expect to hang in the playoff race without getting contributions from their special teams. The Canes will need to turn it around in a hurry to keep up with the other teams around them.
Ward Comes up Big
Number one backstop Cam Ward made some outstanding saves last night against one of the leagues highest powered offenses. Here are just a few gems from last night.
Ward wasn’t the only goalie in the building making saves. Check out this great sequence from Scott Darling, who was one rebound away from a 40-save shutout.
Ty Rattie Notches First Point as a Cane
Waver pick up Ty Rattie picked up his first point in a Canes jersey last night on the Victor Rask goal, earning the second assist. Rattie is very familiar with the Blackhawks, spending parts of four seasons with the rival St. Louis Blues. He was not shaken by the “Madhouse on Madison” as he played an impressive game, earning a career high 15:24 in ice time on a line with Rask and Skinner.
The Hurricanes fought hard last night against one of the best teams in the league. They peppered Scott Darling with 40 shots, but he had an answer for 39 of them. Watching the game, you got the feeling that the Blackhawks were essentially staving off the Canes for nearly 60 minutes of play. Bill Peters’ club showed a lot of fight in the second night of a back to back on the road, but ultimately couldn’t convert that to two points. They will look to build momentum again against Boston tomorrow night.