A game on the back half of a back-to-back, against the league’s second-worst team, seems like the perfect candidate for a trap game, and to be honest at times the Carolina Hurricanes did look a little heavy-legged on Friday night at PNC Arena.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, the hapless Chicago Blackhawks were all too happy to play the role of the Washington Generals, providing little more than token defensive resistance as the Hurricanes cruised to a 6-3 romp.
The Blackhawks actually opened the scoring and looked up for the challenge at the start, getting rewarded for their efforts when Brandon Hagel scored his first of the season 6:12 into the game. But it didn’t take long until the Hurricanes to tie it up, Tony DeAngelo doing the honors off a gorgeous pass from Vincent Trocheck that went through the legs of Reese Johnson.
Adam Gaudette gave Chicago the lead back three minutes later, but at the tail end of a Carolina power play Jordan Staal brought it back to even. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, by this point they had woken up, and Staal’s goal was the first of five unanswered for the home squad.
Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen could reasonably feel hung out to dry, but when you’re three weeks into the season and are still seeking your first win of the year, it’s safe to assume that fate is not on your side. True to form, the Hurricanes scored no fewer than three goals off deflections that Lankinen had no prayer of stopping.
And when the Hurricanes weren’t getting lucky bounces, they were showing off their offensive finesse, with the goals by both DeAngelo and Jesperi Kotkaniemi coming off pinpoint passes:
Plenty of Hurricanes fans were no doubt thrilled at the spectacle of the home team hanging half a dozen on the board before the game hit its midway point, but one fan was left wishing that they’d offer a bit of relief:
H͑̐̿E͋͌͝L̒̔͆P̈́͑͝ M͋̿͋Ë́̓— H. Wade Minter (@minter) October 30, 2021
Minter got his wish; past the halfway point the Hurricanes essentially went on cruise control and allowed Antti Raanta to show off for the home crowd. In his first start as a Hurricane, Raanta did exactly that, making a pair of spectacular saves on Philipp Kurashev and DeBrincat, the latter a highlight-reel cartwheel save to rob Chicago’s leading scorer.
DeAngelo finished off his first career Gordie Howe hat trick with a solid bout against Johnson early in the third, joining with his goal and a pair of second-period assists, and tempers flared as the Blackhawks’ frustrations boiled over. The power play from one of those scrums resulted in DeBrincat getting his revenge on a tight-angle snap shot just before the halfway point of the third period, but that was as close as the visitors would get.
Of concern to the Hurricanes, who were simply looking to get out of the game healthy, was the status of Nino Niederreiter, who left the game with what looked like a lower-body injury in the third period. Despite that uncertainty, the Hurricanes extended their franchise-record start to the season, posting a 7-0 record and joining the Florida Panthers as the only undefeated teams in the NHL.
They have a great opportunity to push that record to 8-0 when they wrap up the homestand on Sunday, with the only NHL team worse than the Blackhawks, the similarly winless Arizona Coyotes, coming to town.