Brief recap of Canes 4-3 shootout win over the Blackhawks
Entering with a four-game win streak, the Hurricanes started well in Chicago on Tuesday night. Maybe partly from having a few rusty players in the lineup with COVID protocol returnees, the team was not as tight defensively early, but that seemed to matter little when the Canes started putting the puck in the net. First, Jordan Staal threaded a pass through Warren Foegel and the player defending him and past another defenseman to find Andrei Svechnikov sprinting to the front of the net for a quick goal. Then Staal whirled around and found Foegele for a second pretty assist and a second goal. At that point the Hurricanes seemed to be off and running. But the lack of attention to detail that permeated the entire period eventually caught up with the Hurricanes. First, they got caught running around and a bit disorganized on the penalty kill. The result was what felt like seven passes through the box ultimately finding an opening on the back door for an easy goal. Shortly thereafter Jaccob Slavin half-whiffed trying to clear a puck and handed it to Patrick Kane between the face-off circles. As is almost always the case that did not end well. When the smoke cleared on the first period, the Canes limped into the first intermission with a 2-2 tie after jumping out to an early lead.
The second period finished scoreless but was still quite eventful. Intermittent loose defensive play saw Patrick Kane in alone and shooting off Reimer’s mask, and in general Reimer was asked to hold the fort quite a bit. The Hurricanes also had a few decent chances. Add an (accidental?) hit by Karl Soderburg on Brett Pesce at center ice followed on the same shift by Svechnikov leveling Soderburg to amp up the intensity and physical play, and the period was entertaining despite the lack of goals.
The third period had an element of ‘when it’s going, it’s going.’ A set of caroms saw a puck bounce randomly to Nino Niederreiter and then off a defenseman directly to Trocheck’s stick with a half a net to shoot at. He buried it to put the Canes up 3-2. But another coverage issue that looked a bit similar to the power play goal against saw a Blackhawk player finish from right in front of the net.
The game was a sizable step down from the past three wins, but I think there are two positives in that. First, the Canes are just fun to watch right now. Second, even the down version of the Carolina Hurricanes is capable of winning hockey games.
Player and other notes
1) Jordan Staal playmaking machine
Jordan Staal continued a tremendous run of making goals happen for line mates. Prior to Tuesday, the run started with his pretty saucer pass to a streaking Martin Necas for the overtime winner against Tampa Bay last Thursday. Next he threaded a pass through traffic to Vincent Trocheck for a power play tally on Saturday. On Sunday, he had a spinning assist at the offensive blue line on Brock McGinn’s goal in addition to scoring himself. In the here and now, Staal had the two pretty first period assists on Tuesday. .
2) The many facets of Andrei Svechnikov
Maybe most typical for a gifted scorer was the simple but good goal in the first period for Andrei Svechnikov, but the game was also a great showcase for the depth of Svechnikov’s game and his feel for it. When Pesce was leveled at center ice, it was Svechnikov who found and floored Soderburg less than 30 seconds later. In the third period, he had the awareness to sense and basically matador Nikita Zadorov who tried to come across and clobber him. For as much skill as Svechnikov obviously has, his hockey smarts and sense are on par, and his skating is even better. Top it off with a clutch
3) Some rust
Warren Foegele notched a goal and an assist in the first period, but the rest of the COVID returnee group showed some rust. Slavin had the turnover for quick goal against to end the first period poorly and just seemed a half step slow too often which never happens with him. Teravainen seemed to have regular interludes when the puck hated him including a couple mishandles and a big whiff on a one-timer with a broken stick. Jordan Martinook did not struggle as noticeably but was maybe not as much of a factor physically as he is most games.
4) James Reimer
Reimer had a solid game in an understated way. He was put in a really tough place on all three goals against. The first goal saw a player unguarded on the back door. The second goal by Kane deflected off a stick and by him. And the third goal against was also scored from right at the top of the crease. Reimer was good in the second period when the Blackhawks were better and in general. He was great in the shootout too. All three Blackhawks tried to out wait Reimer getting him to make a first move. Especially with Kane who tried to put on a stickhandling show, he just waited them all out.
5) Nino Niederreiter
Nino Niederreiter quietly had a solid game. He was active in front of the net the entire game. The assist he picked up was a bit random with the carom directly to Trocheck, but he played a good version of the kind of game he needs to play as a complementary power forward and crease crasher when he is with Trocheck and Necas.
Next up for the Hurricanes is the second of the standard 2020-21 two-game set on Thursday against the Blackhawks.