With Scott Darling in the net, the Carolina Hurricanes desperately needed something to feel good about as they put the finishing touches on what had been a very disappointing road trip.
The Chicago Blackhawks got better and better as Thursday’s game went on, but the Hurricanes found a way to get back in the win column and finished on the right side of a 4-3 final score.
The first period was one hell of a spectacle.
From the outset, the Hurricanes weren’t very organized. There were a couple of painful lapses in judgement, both with and without the puck. Turnovers and poor pinches gifted Chicago with a couple of high-danger chances in the first five minutes, but Scott Darling bailed his teammates out.
Then, his teammates rewarded him for his efforts.
Andrei Svechnikov, who scored his first goal since game four of the season over the weekend in Arizona, stretched out and was able to guide the puck past a sprawling Corey Crawford.
Andrei Svechnikov. Goal City. 4th of the season. 1-0 Canes in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/Cof5sfuVc6— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 9, 2018
The Hurricanes kept their foot on the gas. They pushed the tempo and really pinned the Blackhawks in their own end. Their steady puck possession coaxed the Hawks into taking the first penalty of the night.
The power play, while still not where they need it to be, has started to have a pulse over the past week, and they came through with a goal to put the Canes ahead by two. Along the half-wall, Lucas Wallmark found Justin Williams at the goal line, and the captain’s power move to the front of the net resulted in Jaccob Slavin chipping the puck up and over Crawford’s pad.
A hooking penalty on Calvin de Haan could have been a real momentum killer, but the penalty kill came up with a valiant effort and kept the Blackhawks off the board.
The importance of that kill was magnified just three minutes later, when the newly-formed fourth line combined for Carolina’s third goal of the opening frame.
Phil Di Giuseppe nets his first goal of the season in his first game back from Charlotte. Justin Faulk with the pinch, Brock McGinn with the pass, and Clark Bishop with a great screen in front. 3-0 Canes. pic.twitter.com/r4N00j946B— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 9, 2018
Justin Faulk pinched down the wall and got the puck to Brock McGinn, who found recently re-called Phil Di Giuseppe in the dead slot. Clark Bishop, the guy who accompanied Di Giuseppe back to the NHL club on Wednesday, set a great screen and Crawford didn’t have a chance of adjusting to make the save.
It was far from a pretty first 20 minutes from the Hurricanes, but that didn’t stop them for cashing in on their opportunities. After a trio of disheartening results, the Canes got off to a much-needed hot start in the finale of their four-game road trip.
The second period started well for the Hurricanes. The key word there is “started”.
A slick behind-the-back pass from below the goal by Sebastian Aho set up Calvin de Haan for his first goal as a Hurricane to increase the lead to 4-0.
Then, things started to go not-so-well for the Hurricanes.
An odd-man rush ended abruptly due to what appeared to be a tripping penalty on Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, but no call was made and the Hawks transitioned the other way to score their first goal of the night.
The Blackhawks rode the momentum created from that goal to an additional big tally just over six minutes later. Brandon Saad’s shot banked off of David Kampf and under the crossbar to cut what was a four-goal deficit in half.
A Clark Bishop tripping penalty gave Chicago another power play chance, but the Canes came up with an important kill and pushed this game to the third period with a two-goal lead in hand.
Carolina probably should have been carrying that two-goal lead with both hands, because they dropped one of the goals just a few minutes into the third period.
Nick Schmaltz came in and was able to beat Darling on a shot that the former Blackhawk would probably want to have back. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs in the great game of hockey and the Hurricanes’ four-goal lead had dwindled down to just one.
Through scare after scare, the Hurricanes managed to, somehow, hold onto their lead. Chicago pulled Crawford for the extra attacker with about two minutes to go, but Darling and company were able to escape United Center with a 4-3 win.
Carolina’s win marked the end of a five-game losing streak and their first win in the month of October. They avoided a winless road trip. Darling got his first win of the season after a lower-body injury held him out of the lineup after a strong preseason. He made 35 saves on 38 shots.
The Hurricanes will return to Raleigh and prepare for their Saturday-night date with the Detroit Red Wings. The Canes beat the Wings in their lone matchup this season 3-1 at Little Caesars Arena.