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Recap: Canes come back to top Ward, Blackhawks

Cam Ward’s first visit to PNC Arena as a member of the opposition ended in the Hurricanes scoring three straight goals to steal a win.

Jamie Kellner

Cam Ward played 668 regular season games as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, but in his first appearance at PNC Arena Monday night as a member of another team, his former club got the better of him.

The Hurricanes came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game, skating away with a 3-2 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on the strength of Sebastian Aho’s goal 1:16 into the extra session.

Early on, the Hurricanes looked like they were doing everything but shoot at Ward’s glove side, long his biggest weakness. Defensively, they were a horror show, exemplified by the opening goal that was tipped in by Jonathan Toews at the top of the crease with literally no other red jersey besides that of Scott Darling even in the picture.

It got worse. Midway through the second period, Justin Faulk fumbled the puck under pressure from Alex DeBrincat, and the second-year winger scored his third goal in two career games at PNC Arena to open up a two-goal lead.

The Hurricanes gave the puck away eight times to Chicago’s one in the first period, and a pair of turnovers and failed pinches gifted the Blackhawks two near-breakaways in the second period. First, Toews put the puck on a platter for Patrick Kane only for him to be robbed by his former teammate’s glove, and then just a couple of shifts later Nick Schmaltz was shut down on a clear breakaway by Darling.

Those saves proved to be big in keeping the Canes in it, and when they finally earned a power play 34 minutes into the game, they cashed in as Sebastian Aho won the puck back to Teuvo Teravainen, who took just three seconds to beat Ward and pull the game to within one. Less than a minute later, Henri Jokiharju sat for slashing, and the Canes’ man advantage hit the spot again, this time on a pinpoint pass from Andrei Svechnikov to Micheal Ferland to tie the game.

Svechnikov was at the center of a scary moment exactly halfway through the third, when he was boarded by Brent Seabrook and his head snapped into the glass. He laid prone on the ice for a few seconds while Jordan Martinook jumped in to defend his teammate, but he got up and actually came into the scrum before Seabrook and Martinook were escorted to the penalty box. Svechnikov went to the locker room with trainer Bill Burniston, but returned to the bench with two minutes to go.

Aho had a pair of chances to net the go-ahead goal on consecutive rushes, but he shifted on a drop pass from Teravainen and then lost the puck trying to stickhandle a couple of seconds later. He slammed the door on the bench as he left the ice, knowing that a goal likely would have sewn up two points for his squad.

It didn’t matter, although the Canes did give the Blackhawks one point, because Aho ended it with an overtime goal 1:16 into the extra session, sending Ward to his first defeat in PNC Arena when clad in a non-red jersey.

They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

I didn’t like the start. I thought we came out a little sluggish. We knew they were going to come flying, and they did, and give them a lot of credit: they looked like the Chicago Blackhawks of old at the beginning, going up and down and we were a little bit in quicksand. As the game went on, we got better and better. The start was a little worrisome, but the guys turned it on after.

[The power play] has been better. When you want it to score, you need it a little more, and tonight it came up huge obviously. Special teams are how you win in this league. They have to be sharp, and obviously that was the key tonight.

You want to make sure you aren't losing the game because of the special teams, which is what happened the first 12, 13 games. Not for any lack of effort, it just takes time to get this stuff together and that’s the difference tonight. They played a good game, our guys played a good game, and special teams is where it was decided.

[On Darling]: That’s what we need. We need saves at times when we break down. He was huge. We had some mental lapses to give up those breakaways. That’s all it was, and you need a goalie to help you out and he did.

[On Svechnikov]: That was real scary, when he went down the way he did and didn’t move for a little bit, that was worrisome. I was glad to see him come back and be a factor at the end of the game. He went in and did the protocol, missed a few shifts but obviously they cleared him.

[On Ward]: He’s a special person. To me he’ll always be special. He helped me realize one of the dreams I’ve had my whole life, to win a Stanley Cup. He was a huge part of that. I know what he put into this organization. To see him out there was nice and obviously the tribute was great. Some of his days that I remember very well. That was a pretty special moment.

Scott Darling:

Every win’s huge, and every win feels good. It’s always fun to play against the Blackhawks. I’m happy Cam had a good game, but I’m happy that we won.

That was a huge stretch. We had just let in the second goal and the game could go either way at that point. For the PP to come through with two goals was great.

They passed it across, I saw it was Kaner and I knew he was going to go elbow up, so I just threw my glove up and luckily it went in there.

Sebastian Aho:

I hadn’t scored in a while, and that felt really good. I try to not think about it, whether it’s points or goals. I know when I’m playing good, and tonight wasn’t my best. I wasn’t happy at all, but a good ending.

You know, when you get a few [power play] goals, you get some confidence. But it’s still not good enough — well, today it was good enough, it was 2 out of 2 — but we still have to keep working on it.

Game Notes

  • I know Brind’Amour mentioned this in the postgame, but it bears repeating: with the exception of the second goal against Detroit on Saturday, Darling has really found a groove. It wasn’t his fault that the Hurricanes defensemen couldn’t be bothered to be within thirty feet of the crease to disrupt Toews, and he more than made up for it with the back to back stops of Kane and Schmaltz in the second period. Even more than the power play goals, those saves were the turning point in the game.
  • How abysmal was the Canes’ defense for most of the night? They committed 20 turnovers in the game. The Hawks had five.
  • After everything that Seabrook got away with tonight, it was glorious to see him prone on the ice vainly trying to stop Aho from scoring the game winner. Karma is glorious sometimes.
  • Brind’Amour gave his former teammate a long round of applause after the tribute on the video board in the first period. He truly meant what he said about Ward in the postgame and there is still a whole lot of respect there.
  • Svechnikov’s assist on Ferland’s game-tying goal was his first power play point in the NHL. It won’t be his last.
  • Dougie Hamilton Consecutive Games With A Shot Counter: 183 and counting.
  • Also, this:
  • The Canes are off tomorrow and will be back at PNC for practice on Wednesday.