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Recap: Mrazek, Hurricanes blank Blackhawks in return to PNC

The Canes kick off a four-game home stand with a win over Chicago, and snap a three-game skid behind a shutout from Petr Mrazek .

Kaydee Gawlik

RALEIGH — After two full weeks away from home, the Carolina Hurricanes returned to PNC Arena Saturday afternoon in winning fashion, topping the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 thanks to a great game in net from goaltender Petr Mrazek.

Mrazek collected his second shutout of the season, stopping all 32 of the shots he faced. For the Canes offensively, winger Andrei Svechnikov picked up the first power-play goal of his career in the first period, before adding another goal late in the third period. Winger Nino Niederreiter found the back of the net for the first time this season late in the second period, giving the Canes a 2-0 cushion as they headed into the second intermission.

Jordan Staal added a third for the Hurricanes early in the third period, as he tallied on a power play to make it 3-0. Svechnikov extended it to 4-0 late in the game. The Canes’ special teams were great Saturday, as Carolina was 2 for 2 up a man and didn’t allow a goal during three penalty kills.

On the other end of the ice from Mrazek, Blackhawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford was decent but not great in a losing effort, stopping 27 of 31 shots faced. Crawford’s performance obviously wasn’t enough to best Mrazek, as the Hurricanes snapped a three-game losing streak to kick off the home stand.

Any fears of a slow start that might come with a 1:00 puck drop were quickly dispelled, as both teams came out of the gate absolutely flying. Svechnikov brought a lot of the first-period energy for Carolina, putting a couple dangerous shots towards the net on his first shift of the afternoon.

Following a high sticking penalty on Chicago’s Duncan Keith, Svechnikov made the Blackhawks pay just five seconds into the power play. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton fed Svechnikov at the top of the circle, and the Carolina winger fired a bullet past Crawford in net to make it 1-0 Canes just over four minutes into the game.

The goal for Svechnikov was his second of the season, and also marked the first power-play tally of his young career. Hamilton picked up assist number six on the season, moving his point streak to four games and bringing his point total up to 12 on the season. Center Erik Haula was also credited with an assist on the opening goal, his second of the year.

The Canes and Blackhawks kept the energy up for the rest of the first period, as the action on the ice stayed fast-paced and crisp. Chicago’s top line brought some danger late in the opening period, but Mrazek was as sharp as anyone on the ice. The Canes’ netminder made a couple of highlight-reel saves late in the period, including a full-split effort.

The second period was a bit calmer than the first, but both teams still got some pretty good looks. Seven minutes into the period, Brock McGinn was denied by the stick of Crawford, leading to a breakaway effort for Dylan Strome. However, Mrazek came up huge again, making a pad save on Strome’s shot to keep it 1-0.

Mrazek continued to make great save after great save, as Chicago posted 24 shots on goal through the first two periods without getting a single one past the outstanding Mrazek.

In the waning seconds of the middle period, Niederreiter doubled the Hurricanes’ lead with a great effort. Niederreiter undressed Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook with a great fake, before beating Crawford high on the blocker side for his first goal of the season. Defenseman Jaccob Slavin was credited with an assist, his fifth of the year.

Staal snuck one past Crawford from the slot to make it 3-0 on a power play early in the third period, as he netted his second of the year. Center Sebastian Aho threaded a great pass to Staal from behind the net, hitting his captain in stride to set up the score. Niederreiter also picked up an assist on the goal.

Svechnikov added his second goal of the night, firing into the back of the net following a goal-mouth scramble near the end of the third period.

Mrazek continued to make saves down the stretch, as Carolina saw the game out for a 4-0 win. The win put the Hurricanes back into the win column, as the Canes improved to 4-1 on the season inside of PNC Arena. The Hurricanes will be back on the ice Tuesday, as they host the Calgary Flames.

Postgame Quotes

Rod Brind’Amour

“We had our moments that weren’t great, but overall I thought it was a pretty solid game from start to finish. The second period was a little iffy, but not terrible. I loved the way that we played in the third with the lead, still going after it but doing it right.”

“For [Niederreiter] I love it, because he needed that. He’s been pressing a little bit. It’s nice to win a game on the special teams, too. That’s obviously huge if you can pull away in that area, and obviously we did tonight, so that’s nice.”

“[Mrazek] was phenomenal. He was sharp. You could tell he was kind of ahead of it. He made a couple in the first period that could have easily went their way, and I think that was the difference in coming out with a decent first period because of him. It enabled us to keep going. He was solid all the way.”

Petr Mrazek

“Busy, I would say, in the first period. It’s good to have a lot of stuff coming at you, and I saw the puck very well. The guys did a great job in front of me, so that made it easier.”

“I’ve felt really good in all the games I’ve played so far. Sometimes it doesn’t work out how you want it, but you just have to leave that behind you and look forward.”

“We could be better, and I think that we showed that tonight when we had the lead in the third period. That’s how we want to play. I thought the third period was exactly how we want to play.”

Nino Niederreiter

“Obviously, when you don’t score you are trying to change something. You probably shouldn’t do that, you should probably just keep your game, but sometimes you do too much and think about too many things. I’m happy I finally got one in and got that off my chest.”

“We knew after losing the last three games that we had to change something, and I think it’s starting to show. Working hard, playing in our own zone and we work from there.”

Andrei Svechnikov

“It’s good to see that happening. I just have to keep going, and I guess shoot more on the power play.”

“We played hard. I played hard, too. I just tried to focus the whole game and we played the whole 60 minutes.”

“Last game we didn’t play the whole 60 minutes, like I said. Today, we played the whole 60 minutes. I think that’s our goal for the next games. We played hard.”