Mrazek, Hurricanes post 4-0 shutout of Chicago
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A hot goalie and a rejuvenated power play helped the Carolina Hurricanes break a three-game winless streak with a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Petr Mrazek stopped 32 shots to record his second shutout in 12 days and the Hurricanes (7-3-1) went 2-for-2 on the power play as they returned home with a win following a four-game road swing. Andrei Svechnikov scored twice, Nino Niederreiter had a goal and one assist, Jordan Staal scored and Sebastian Aho had two assists for Carolina.
Chicago (2-5-2) has lost four straight, including one overtime loss, and now has totaled just two goals in its last three games. Corey Crawford made 27 saves on 31 shots for the Blackhawks.
Mrazek, who posted a 31-save shutout at Los Angeles on Oct. 15, was sharp throughout the game, particularly during a flurry of Chicago opportunities in the closing minutes of the first period that included a pad save on Patrick Kane at the goalmouth after a cross-ice feed.
“I saw the puck very well and the guys did a great job in front of me, so it made it easier,” Mrazek said.
Svechnikov opened the scoring on the first power-play goal of his career with a wrist shot over Crawford’s right shoulder from the top of the faceoff circle in the game’s fifth minute. Staal also scored with the man advantage in the third period as the Hurricanes broke out of a power play drought.
Carolina had been just 1-for-19 on the power play over the previous six games. Coach Rod Brind’Amour said the team works on the power play in every practice, so the improvement wasn’t necessarily due to any specific strategy the team put in place.
“When we go 0-for-5, we worked on it the day before, too,” Brind’Amour. “And you are looking for stuff. Everybody looks. They’ve got the video. You know what you’re trying to do. The other team knows what you’re trying to do. It just usually comes down to execution, and tonight we were able to capitalize.”
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were 0-for-3 with the man advantage. Chicago is 3-for-29 on the power play this season.
“The power play would be big,” said Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton. “I don’t think we’ve won the special teams battle much this year. It’s difficult to get results. I think there’s no secrets in there as far as what we need to do to get some wins.”
Chicago had several chances to tie the game as Carolina led just 1-0 for more than 34 minutes following Svechnikov’s first goal. But Mrazek was sharp as the Blackhawks challenged him with 24 shots on goal over the first two periods.
A second-period stop on Dylan Strome after he broke behind the defense preserved the one-goal lead. In the final minute before the second intermission, Niederreiter extended the lead to 2-0 when he fired a wrist shot over Crawford’s right shoulder in a goal that was similar to Svechnikov’s first score.
“I thought we played pretty hard, pretty well for two periods,” Colliton said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get better (results) for that effort. We’ve just got to keep playing, stick to it.”
Niederreiter scored his first goal in the 11th game of the season, ending the second-longest season-opening goal drought of his nine-year career. ... Carolina is 6-0-0 this season when scoring the first goal, and Chicago is 0-4-0 when allowing the first goal.
Blackhawks: Play host to Los Angeles on Sunday before beginning a streak of four straight games away from home.
Hurricanes: Meet Calgary on Tuesday in the second game of a four-game homestand.
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