The Carolina Hurricanes returned home on Saturday and put together a solid all-around effort that snapped their three-game losing streak with a 4-0 blanking of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Good - Svech gets going
Andrei Svechnikov with a snipe on the power play. It's his first NHL power play goal. 1-0 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/nJpgaIU6Ne— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 26, 2019
In line with the Hurricanes offense struggling for much of the recent road trip, the young wunderkind Andrei Svechnikov had not made a mark on the score sheet in the past five contests. But Svech got going in a big way on Saturday, as he sniped from the right circle early on the Canes first power play of the game, for the first power play goal of his career. The heavy shot of Svechnikov could be just what the doctor ordered, along with Erik Haula’s persistent net-front presence, to get those units going.
For Svechnikov, Saturday was a continuation of Thursday night in Columbus where he began to shoot the puck a bit more often. Owner of one of the more deceptive and quick releases on the roster, Svechnikov’s continued offensive maturation would be a major storyline and boost to the Hurricanes as they look to become a playoff team for a second year in a row.
Later, Svechnikov expanded his game even further, showing the physical side of play that he has shown at other points when he has felt especially confident. His check of Kirby Dach was indicative of the tone the Canes set on Saturday, which was led by Svechnikov.
Andrei Svechnikov lays a big hit on Kirby Dach behind the Carolina net. pic.twitter.com/FPBfEiBQRb— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 26, 2019
To finish off his fabulous day, Svechnikov got a little bit of puck luck as he set up shop in front of the net and hacked away at a feed from Jordan Staal to make the score 4-0.
Noted pinball master Andrei Svechnikov scores his second goal of the game. Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 4-0. pic.twitter.com/MaboNFXOY7— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 26, 2019
Svechnikov’s standout game was particularly encouraging because he represents something of a wildcard for the Canes. The team feels it knows what it will receive offensively from a number of players up and down the roster, but Svechnikov remains the player who has the widest range of possible outcomes. If he can carry on with a leap forward in his second season, the Canes would be in a terrific position as the season unfolds.
The Better - Power play comes alive
As mentioned earlier, Svechnikov provided a spark for the power play, which had gone 1-for-21 over the previous seven games. His goal from the right circle just four seconds into the first man advantage of the day charted the course for the day as a whole and for the beleaguered powerplay.
When the Canes went back on the power play in the third period, looking to extend the lead to 3-0 and effectively end the contest, the efforts of the other unit were rewarded. Jordan Staal flashed to the front of the net, and with Nino Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho domininating possession below the goal line, Aho’s feed to the front provided the golden opportunity which the Canes cashed in on.
Jordan Staal nets his power play unit's first goal of the season. Canes have two PPGs today and lead 3-0 in the third period. pic.twitter.com/NAKEokKSZE— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 26, 2019
Seeing both units have success was a major positive sign, and furthermore seeing the success go beyond Haula and Dougie Hamilton showed that the Canes are capable of different dimensions with their units. While Carolina certainly would love to have a go-to set up for the man advantage, being dangerous from multiple spots on the ice should open up more opportunities for Hamilton and his big shot from the point. The work below the goal line from Niederreiter and Aho could be something we see more of going forward.
The Best - Mrazek shuts the door
Petr Mrazek was sensational on Saturday afternoon, stopping all 32 shots he faced in collecting his second shutout in less than two weeks. In fact, he has pitched a shutout in each of the last two Canes victories. In his efforts, though, Mrazek was forced to make a handful of spectacular saves, including this one with an assist from Lucas Wallmark.
While Carolina was the clear better team over the course of the contest, after the Canes got out to a 1-0 lead early in the first, the Blackhawks made a significant push in the back end of the first period. By all rights, they could have either knotted the game at 1-1 or even overtaken the Canes, but Mrazek would have none of it. His efforts kept the Canes on top, and they never looked back from there. He was particularly adept at using his athleticism, pushing across the crease multiple times to thwart opportunities or position himself before defenders were able to recover and help out.
While the jury will remain out on Mrazek as to whether or not he is a goalie that can take the Canes to the places they want to go in the spring, efforts like Saturday will go a long way in terms of endearing Mrazek further to his teammates and to a fan base that has seemed to embrace the Czech netminder.
Snapping the losing streak is certainly something the Canes are glad to get out of the way. But perhaps the production on the power play could be the greater takeaway for the Canes as they seek to build on their game going forward. Everyone is aware of the prowess of the Canes at five-on-five, sof they could maintain even a middle of the pack power play (currently 13th), and manage to reduce the excessive minor penalties which have plagued them in the early going this season, they will be a serious force in the Eastern Conference story.