Brief recap of Hurricanes 6-4 loss to the Blackhawks
All good things must come to an end.
The Hurricanes started fast against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night with a quick goal by Sebastian Aho only 1:15 into the game. The play was a fairly simple one with Dougie Hamilton finding Sebastian in the middle of the ice. Aho fired through a Brock McGinn screen to send the Hurricanes off and running. The rest of the first period was mostly a mess. The Hurricanes looked a step slow at any/all transition points which played a significant role in taking three obstruction type penalties (Fleury, Necas, Skjei) and another for a high hit (Lorentz). The Hurricanes paid dearly for their digressions allowing three power play goals on four attempts after spending most of the period under duress playing a man short. When the dust settled, the Blackhawks had run out to a 3-1 lead.
Not sure if Brind’Amour lit up the room or the players just knew, but the result as another fast start for the second period. Within the first 60 seconds of the second period, the Hurricanes quickly scored two goals to tie the game at 3-3. First, Nino Niederreiter deftly lifted a backhand into the top half of the net following up a Jaccob Slavin rebound. Then only 18 seconds later Andrei Svechnikov quickly finished into a half open cage on a rebound off a heady Dougie Hamilton shot off the rush. The Hurricanes second period in total was a bit better and taking only one penalty was maybe the biggest gain. The teams would trade chances a bit for the rest of the period which ended with a 3-3 tie.
The third period featured more loose play on both sides. Patrick Kane scored after getting a half step on Jaccob Slavin and seemingly knocking a covered (maybe?) puck loose and into the net. Brock McGinn pulled the Canes even again at 4-4 with a blast on an Aho pass from behind the end line. Then more iffy coverage in front of the net put the Blackhawks ahead for good. With at least four defenders sort of where they needed to be but not really marking men, a centering pass found Alex DeBrincat in front for another goal against from the top of the crease. DeBrincat would also finish it off late with an empty-netter.
Player and other notes
1) Strong game for the depth forwards – Brock McGinn and Nino Niederreiter
In a bit of an understated way, Canes forwards playing as the third on scoring lines had big games. Brock McGinn was the perfect screen on Sebastian Aho’s first goal that whistled right by goalie Kevin Lankinen who never saw it. McGinn was also the pressure on Calvin de Haan that forced the turnover to Dougie Hamilton and the quick rush and rebound goal. Then he finished off a productive night with his blast for the tying goal in the third period. Playing on the second line, Nino Niederreiter continue his consistent effort to play as much as possible at the top of the crease and was rewarded with a pretty backhand rebound goal on Jaccob Slavin’s shot.
2) Defensive zone coverage issues
Hiding behind winning hockey in recent games has been the regular issues defending opposing players between the face-off circles in defensive zone. Part of it has been running around a bit and lacking awareness on the power play as was the case for the three power play goals against in the first period on Thursday, but more generally, the team has had recent issues sorting out assignments resulting in players hiding behind coverage for easy goals.
3) A step slow
‘Stay out of the box’ is the simple version of much of the Canes struggles on Thursday, but I think equally important was that the Hurricanes were a step or two slow all night at transition points. Three of the early penalties were the result of a Canes player suddenly being out of position against speed and trying to make up for it by using their sticks. In an anomaly for the Hurricanes, the young Blackhawks team looked a step faster for long stretches of the game.
4) Special teams deficit
Despite not playing well, the Hurricanes still held their own 5-on-5. The difference was the combination of obstruction penalties and the inability to kill of the penalties. Minus power play and empty-net goals, the Canes would have won 4-2.
5) Aho and Svechnikov
Carrying forward from the end of Tuesday’s game, Brind’Amour put Aho and Svechnikov back together with good results. Each had a goal and an assist in the loss and Svechnikov had multiple shots at the end when the team was trying to pull back even at 5-5.
Some downs are inevitable over the course of a long season. Looking at the bigger picture, the 6-2 start makes for a 123-point pace for an 82-game season.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a 3pm match up on Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets leading up to the Super Bowl.