Needing a bounce-back win Friday night at PNC Arena, the Carolina Hurricanes got exactly that, extending their point streak to five games with a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to three third-period goals.
Nino Niederreiter scored twice, his team-leading eighth and ninth goals of the season, and added an assist, and Martin Necas and Jaccob Slavin each chipped in a goal and an assist. Vincent Trocheck also scored for Carolina.
James Reimer started shaky but finished strong in net, stopping 26 of 29 Chicago shots, including blank of blank in a third period in which he did not allow a goal until the final minute with the Canes up by three.
After the debacle in the loss in Chicago earlier this month, the Canes’ special teams made a difference tonight, with the power play scoring twice in the third period and the Canes holding Chicago scoreless on its first three power plays, only allowing a conversion with the game comfortably in hand.
Wearing their new reverse retros for the first time this year, the Canes got it done with a whale of a third period. Following a rough end to the second period that saw Chicago score twice and wipe out a 2-0 Hurricanes lead, the Canes scored three unanswered in the final frame.
The Canes wasted little time re-claiming the lead with an early-period man advantage, as Necas let a shot go from the top of the left circle that deflected in off former Hurricane Calvin de Haan to make it 3-2.
With under five minutes to go, Niederreiter put the game effectively on ice with his second goal of the game, tapping in a slick feed from Jesper Fast.
For the second time tonight, Nino Niederreiter stands alone as the Hurricanes' leading goal scorer. That's #9 for Nino to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead in the third period. pic.twitter.com/u0dBKM5PPJ— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) February 20, 2021
Slavin finished out the Canes’ scoring with a long-distance empty netter to make it a 5-2 game. Carl Soderberg made it a 5-3 game with under a minute left on a Chicago power play, but it was a case of too little too late.
Directly after a successful penalty kill, the Canes jumped in front late in the period, as Niederreiter took a pass from Slavin at the right circle and snapped a shot past Kevin Lankinen that deflected off Nikita Zadorov’s stick and in for his eighth goal of the season.
Lankinen had niNO chance on that shot. Niederreiter with a snipe to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead over the Blackhawks. pic.twitter.com/c7woD3aGhu— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) February 20, 2021
Early in the second period, Jake Bean took a cross-ice pass from Niederreiter and slid a perfect backhand dish to Trocheck in the slot, who buried it for his eighth of the year to make it 2-0.
Niederreiter’s assist on Trocheck’s tally gave him 300 career NHL points.
Vincent Trocheck also couldn't believe that Jake Bean made that pass. 2-0 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/k5FNeHMAfO— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) February 20, 2021
The Canes had ample chances to add to their lead late in the second, with Necas blasting a power-play one-timer off the post, and Slavin hitting the Canes’ third post of the period shortly after. The middle frame ended in disaster, however, with the Blackhawks scoring twice in the last four minutes.
Directly after the Slavin post, the Hawks took it the other way, and Patrick Kane beat Reimer with a spinning backhand to make it a 2-1 game. Chicago tied the game on a delayed penalty with 11 seconds left in the period, as Ian Mitchell beat Reimer from between the tops of the circles through traffic.
Other than the lapses late in the second, however, the Canes played a strong overall game to improve to 11-3-1, setting the table for a set of four straight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.