The Chicago Blackhawks finally looked like a team ready to play on Monday night against the Ottawa Senators, scoring the opening goal of the game and eventually putting up five goals. They never looked back, and Patrick Kane has never looked better thus far this season, putting up a hat trick along with a couple of helpers in the winning effort. Enter Wednesday night, and the Carolina Hurricanes had been rolling this season coming into Chicago with a perfect record of 8–0–0.
The Blackhawks started things off with a bang in this one. Kane lofted the puck through the neutral zone so high that it could not be controlled by the Carolina defense. It landed on the stick of Alex DeBrincat, who ripped the puck past Frederik Andersen, making it 1–0 Blackhawks.
At the 6:25 mark of the frame, however, the Hurricanes managed to tie it up on a Derek Stepan shot from right in front of the net, tying the game up at 1–1.
The rest of the period was a lot of back and forth, with chances on both sides of the ice. Each team received a power play opportunity, but failed to do anything with it, leaving the score at 1–1 after one.
Just 2:49 was all that Kane needed to score a goal of his own in the second period. Riley Stillman blasted it from the point, and Kane was there for the tip to get the puck past Andersen to put the hosts back on top at 2–1.
Eight minutes into the frame, Mike Hardman muscled a Hurricanes defenseman off the puck at the Carolina blue line, made a beautiful back pass to Phillip Kurashev, who whipped it across to DeBrincat, who one-timed the puck past Andersen into a yawning cage, doubling the margin at 3–1 for the Hawks.
After some good activity in front of the Carolina net, Erik Gustafsson started to pinch when he very clearly should not have, getting burned by rookie Seth Jarvis, who buried his breakaway chance for the first goal of his young career in just his second NHL game.
At the 13:35 mark of the second, Kirby Dach took a penalty on a hook of Brett Pesce, giving the Hurricanes another power play opportunity. The Blackhawks played good defense on this penalty kill and stymied any chances that the Hurricanes put on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Going into the third period, the home team was able to keep the score 3–2 going into the intermission.
Things took a turn just 17 seconds into the period, as the Hurricanes got a 3-on-2 rush into the offensive zone after a brilliant interception in the neutral zone from stud defenseman Jaccob Slavin, with the result being Jesper Fast slipping the puck past Fleury and knotting the game up at 3–3.
A few short minutes later, at the 3:26 mark of the period, Martin Necas got a wrister in on Fleury that squibbed under his right arm and over the line, giving the Hurricanes their first lead of the evening and making it 4–3.
At the 6:06 mark of the period, the Blackhawks took their second power play of the game on an Ian Cole interference penalty. However, they did not get any good opportunities on the man advantage and let the Hurricanes continually clear the puck from harm’s way and keep it down in the Blackhawks’ end of the ice. Jonathan Toews drew another penalty on a Brady Skjei hooking call shortly after. Their puck movement was markedly better, and they were able to keep good pressure on the Hurricanes throughout the first half of the man advantage, even though they were not able to convert any of their chances.
One more power play ought to do it, right? That is what the Blackhawks were hoping for when Dominik Kubalik took a high stick from Ethan Bear for a four-minute power play with yet another chance to tie the game up at four apiece. Chicago even pulled Fleury in order to give themselves an extra attacker in hopes of getting that crucial tying goal. But, the Hawks came up empty-handed and were not able to come back from the hole they got down into, dropping the game by a final score of 4–3.
The Blackhawks played a tighter defensive game overall, but some brutal chances cost them the game. Yes, Fleury should have saved the last two goals, but the Blackhawks as a whole should have played better team defense in the third period to not have allowed those chances in the first place.
The Hawks have to find ways for other guys to score. It is great when DeBrincat and Kane can put the puck in the net, but the secondary players really need to pick up the pace as well and start generating some good chances.
The Blackhawks will look to get back into the win column on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. CDT on NBC Sports Chicago.