A five-game winning streak came to an end for the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night in the United Center, as the Canes fell to the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in a thrilling back-and-forth affair.
The Canes (6-2-0) overcame an early 3-1 deficit with two goals in eight seconds early in the second period, but ultimately came up short as Chicago’s (4-4-4) Alex DeBrincat netted the game winner with eight minutes remaining in the game.
For the Hurricanes, Sebastian Aho opened up the scoring early before Nino Niederreiter and Andrei Svechnikov scored the two quick goals in the second period. Brock McGinn tied things up 4-4 in the final period with his second goal of the year.
Special teams were a particular point of weakness for Carolina Thursday night, as three of Chicago’s five goals came on the power play while the Canes went 0 for 4 with the man advantage. Carolina’s power play wasn’t dangerous at all in the outing, while the Blackhawks’ was deadly, especially early.
In the nets, James Reimer suffered his first loss of the year after stopping 29 of 34 shots faced, though his performance was much, much better than that line would suggest. Kevin Lankinen stopped 29 of 33 shots faced In Chicago’s frame, and was also probably better than his numbers suggest.
Things started out on the right foot early for the Canes, as Aho netted his second goal of the season just 1:15 into the contest. Dougie Hamilton, who worked to keep the puck in the offensive zone, laid off a back pass to Aho, who unleashed a blistering wrister past Lankinen.
With McGinn offering a great screen, there’s a good chance Lankinen never saw the puck.
Sebastian Aho with an absolute snipe to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead just 1:15 into the game. Dougie Hamilton with the primary helper. pic.twitter.com/Vhe16lPsDk— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 5, 2021
That Aho opener was about the only thing that went right for Carolina in the opening period, as the Blackhawks answered with a trio of power-play tallies to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
The first came just two minutes after Aho’s goal, as Mattias Janmark made Haydn Fleury and the Canes pay for a lazy hooking penalty. Janmark received a good cross-ice pass into space from Domink Kubalik, and he beat Reimer with a nifty forehand-backhand move.
After Chicago successfully killed off a penalty on Kubalik, Martin Necas went to the box after an avoidable tripping call to send the Blackhawks back to the man advantage. This time it was Kubalik who found the net, converting with a blazing shot from the point after a fortunate bounce fell right to his stick.
The Canes took two more penalties in quick succession later in the first period, as Steven Lorentz went to the box for a check to the head and Brady Skjei joined him after a tripping. While the Canes successfully killed off over a minute of 5-on-3 hockey, Chicago’s power play powered through shortly after Lorentz’ shift in the box was over.
Andrew Shaw found space in front of Carolina’s net, and backhanded a second-effort chance past Reimer. Patrick Kane made a great pass to Shaw, and he didn’t let the chance slip away.
As poorly as the first period went for the Canes, the start of the second period was just as good. Carolina scored two goals within eight seconds of each other, both in the first minute of the middle frame, to tie things up at 3-3.
Niederreiter tallied first to make it 3-2, driving to the net and backhanding a twice-deflected puck past Lankinen. Jaccob Slavin fired a shot from the point that found the stick of Necas and then a Chicago defenseman, ultimately finding its way to Niederreiter’s stick on the ice.
Ni-NO doubt about it pic.twitter.com/KR2t3plnIT— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 5, 2021
On the ensuing faceoff Hamilton made a great heads-up play, pinching on the puck to win it back for the Canes. Hamilton blasted a shot that resulted in a big rebound, which fell to a streaking Svechnikov who slotted it home calmly into the open net.
Svech scores AGAIN pic.twitter.com/kahhZlaq0B— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 5, 2021
The Hurricanes had another empty power play shortly after the pair of goals, and then committed their fifth penalty of the game late in the period. This time though the Hurricanes’ penalty kill came up strong, with Reimer stepping up big to deny a good chance. The teams entered the locker room for the second intermission tied up.
Kane took a penalty mere seconds into the third period, but the Canes again couldn’t take advantage. It was Kane himself that got the game’s next goal, scoring on an awkward play that was confirmed by video review.
Kane carried the puck towards net with Slavin draped on him and drew a penalty on Slavin as he laid the puck off towards Reimer. Slavin skated into Reimer and the puck made its way into the net, putting the Blackhawks up 4-3.
Chicago’s lead didn’t hold up for long, as McGinn tied things back up with his second goal of the season. Aho delivered a great centering pass from behind the net to McGinn in the middle of the ice, and McGinn rifled the finish past Lankinen.
Brock McGinn fires Sebastian Aho's centering pass home whilst falling down to tie the game at 4-4 in the third period. Mcginn's 2nd goal in his last 3 games. pic.twitter.com/lNu4wwfo9F— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 5, 2021
DeBrincat netted the game winner later in the third period, as a couple weird bounces led to DeBrincat with the puck in the crease. The Canes got one more chance on the power play down the stretch, but again came up empty. DeBrincat added an empty netter late.
There was a scary moment for the Canes late in the game, as Necas took a hard hit from former Hurrican Calvin de Haan. Necas was helped off the ice.
Now the Hurricanes’ road trip will move to Columbus, where Carolina will face the Blue Jackets for a back-to-back Sunday and Monday night.