Nothing can slow down the Carolina Hurricanes right now.
Not the Christmas break. Not a polar vortex. And certainly not the Chicago Blackhawks.
Led by a shutout from Antti Raanta — his first of the season — the Canes topped the league-worst Blackhawks 3-0 Tuesday night in PNC Arena, picking up right where they left off before the holiday. Martin Necas, Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook scored the goals for the Canes, all of which came on net-front, chaos-filled scrambles.
With the win, the Hurricanes have now won nine straight games and scored a point in 15 straight. The point streak extends the franchise record, while the win streak ties the franchise record for the Canes.
While he wasn’t exceptionally busy, Raanta was exceptional. He stopped all 24 shots faced in the game, making a few remarkable saves down the stretch on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to preserve the shutout. On the other end of the ice, former Hurricane Petr Mrazek made 46 saves on 49 shots faced.
There was absolutely no rust from the few days off for the Canes, as Carolina got going early to take a 1-0 lead just 3:36 into the game. The Hurricanes dominated possession from the jump, and after Mrazek couldn’t control the rebound on a Brent Burns shot, Necas inserted himself into a scrum that eventually led to the puck trickling past Mrazek for an early goal.
The Canes put the “create chaos and good things will happen” theory to test again a few minutes later, as Fast (kind of) made it 2-0 on another whacky goal. Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy had a lowlight to forget, as a puck deflected off him and took a heavy rebound off Mrazek. Fast fired the puck across the crease and it was Murphy with the gaffe again, as the puck went off his skate and in to double Carolina’s lead.
Create alllllll the chaos pic.twitter.com/IS6AmELLmg— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 28, 2022
But even with the two chaos-induced goals, the Canes absolutely deserved their 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Carolina outshot the Blackhawks 23-7 in the opening frame, and the Canes had a 12-1 edge in high-danger scoring chances and a 21-6 edge in total scoring chances.
The second period was a stark contrast from the first, as the Canes struggled and Chicago started to get to its game. The Blackhawks outshot the Canes 10-7, as Carolina couldn’t attack consistently like it did in the first.
The bright spot for Carolina in the second was the penalty kill — which killed off three penalties including a brief spell at 5-on-3 — but the Canes also had a shot-less power play mixed in, as well.
The Canes made it 3-0 in the third thanks once again to creating chaos around Mrazek and capitalizing on a chance. Carolina got the puck in on its former netminder in traffic, and a scramble in the crease led to the puck squirting out to Martinook, who quickly backhanded it in for the score.
The Canes controlled the game from there out, with Raanta making some big stops in the final minutes to preserve his first shutout of the season and third as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Next up for the Canes is a home tilt against the Florida Panthers Friday night, as Carolina will look to register the first double-digit game win streak in franchise history.