A few hours before puck drop on Friday evening the NHL postponed Saturday’s game between the Blackhawks and Hurricanes. So Chicago only gets one crack at Carolina this weekend in what has become an important matchup for both teams in the division standings.
While there might not be two games this weekend for the Hawks and Canes, Carolina rolled out in their reverse retro uniforms for the game. A stick tap to the old Hartford Whalers look, Carolina’s look was on point. Cue the “Brass Bonanza.”
Kevin Lankinen got the call between the pipes again, which makes sense with Saturday’s game no longer on the calendar. James Reimer went for Carolina.
Coach Jeremy Colliton also decided to stick with seven defensemen in his lineup. Carolina has been scoring at will lately, so keeping depth on the blue line was a roll of the dice. The Hawks would likely need to score a few to come out of this game with two points.
The first period was a good – not great – for the Hawks. Chicago got the only power play of the opening 20 minutes but failed to convert. And 21 seconds after Brady Skjei left the penalty box Nino Niederreiter ripped a shot that appeared to get a piece of Nikita Zadorov’s shin and angle into the net behind Lankinen for the game’s first goal.
The Blackhawks out-shot the Canes 9-7 in the first. Just failed clearing attempts by Calvin de Haan and Zadorov and the well-placed shot by Niederreiter were the difference.
Lucas Carlsson led the Hawks with three shots on net in the first period, the only three shots to come from the seven dressed defensemen.
A little more than three minutes into the second period the Blackhawks got caught in a long shift and iced the puck with Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin on the ice. Carolina was able to take advantage of the tired Hawks skaters on the ice. Vincent Trocheck’s eighth of the year extended the Canes’ lead to two at 4:02 into the period.
At 16:39 into the second, Patrick Kane decided to take matters into his own hands. He went old school with a spin-o-rama his first NHL coach would be proud of and the highlight reel play finished with the Blackhawks on the board.
Alex DeBrincat picked up the only assist on the gorgeous Kane goal.
Chicago stayed on the offense and pressed the Canes in the final seconds of the period. Duncan Keith tried to drop a puck to Kane but missed him, forcing the Hawks to vacate the offensive zone with 17 seconds left in the period. The reset actually helped Chicago, however. Kane got the puck to David Kampf who dropped it to Ian Mitchell.
And Mitchell didn’t miss.
That goal with 10.5 seconds left in the second period tied the game.
When the horn sounded ten seconds later, the scoreboard showed that Carolina had out-shot the Hawks 15-9 in the second period. But the score was tied at two. Lankinen had stopped 20 of 22 after 40 minutes of hockey and did a good job of keeping his teammates in the game until the offense could break through.
Dylan Strome opened the third period by heading to the penalty box 2:14 in and it proved costly. A mess around the net resulted in a crossbar hit, a man down and a Teuvo Teravainen goal to give the Whalers a 3-2 lead.
Only a few seconds after the ensuing faceoff Lankinen made a ridiculous save on a great chance from Martin Necas that could have blown the game open.
Carolina really poured it on after re-taking the lead. Carlsson broke up a good chance for Andrei Svechnikov and the Canes’ speed was starting to create problems for the Blackhawks. Five minutes into the period the shots were 7-1 in favor of Carolina.
A Beaudin turnover turned into a Zadorov penalty with 12:18 remaining in the third. The Hawks were chasing badly and going short-handed felt like an awful scenario.
But Eric Staal took the legs out from under de Haan 56 seconds into the power play and headed to the box to kill his team’s power play.
Chicago killed their half of the 4-on-4 but couldn’t manage a goal despite a few good shots against Reimer during their brief advantage.
Trailing by one the Hawks struggled to get anything on net at even strength. They generated only four shots on net in the first 13 minutes of the period.
Boqvist went to the box at 13:36 into the third for tripping when he dove to break up a would-be breakaway for Brett Pesce. He was fortunate to only get two minutes; Pesce’s skate got dangerously close to Boqvist’s face. Chicago would have to kill two minutes short-handed with less than seven left in regulation while down a goal.
Lankinen made a few good stops but the pressure was constant and eventually led to a fourth goal for Carolina. Jesper Fast left the puck in front for Niederreiter who put home his second of the night.
Now the Blackhawks had to come up with two in the final five minutes of regulation.
Colliton rolled the dice and pulled his goaltender with more than three minutes left in regulation and an offensive zone faceoff coming. It immediately backfired. Jaccob Slavin fired a puck the length of the ice into the empty cage to make the score 5-2 in favor of Carolina.
The Hawks got a power play with 60 seconds left in regulation but were chasing three. The outcome was academic, but Colliton still pulled Lankinen again for the extra attacker. Kane ripped a shot from the point that slipped by a Carl Soderberg screen in front to get the Blackhawks to within two.
Kane got another good shot off with 28 seconds left in regulation but Reimer got a good look at it and handled the shot. The Blackhawks wouldn’t get another shot on net and the game ended with the Blackhawks’ third regulation loss in their last 16 starts.
Kane would finish the night with three points and another heavy workload night (over 24 minutes of ice time again).
Boqvist continues to look a step slower than the rest of the team. He was tentative at full speed when the season started but he’s noticeably slower since returning from COVID. It’s absolutely time for Colliton to consider replacing him – preferably with Mitchell – on the power play. And he might need some time in Rockford to get his game together.
Lankinen stopped 33 of 37 in the game and was under fire the entire game, especially in the third period. Carolina out-shot the Hawks 16-10 in the final frame.
Kane and Kampf led the Hawks with four shots on net each. Keith and de Haan were credited with a team-leading four blocked shots each.