Tracking the Storm: Analysis from Chicago
-- Hours after the NHL’s trade deadline passed, the Carolina Hurricanes saw their three-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-2. John-Michael Liles and Alexander Semin scored goals for the visitors, while Jonathan Toews posted a three-point night with two goals and an assist for Chicago.
"We weren't very good," head coach Bill Peters said. "You have to give them credit. They played with good pace, and we didn't execute or have the right pace to keep up."
"They capitalized on turnovers. They were able to control the puck tonight," Justin Faulk said. "We need to be a little sharper."
-- Playing their third game in four nights and coming off two straight victories over playoff-bound teams in the Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes seemed to be a step slower than the Blackhawks, who were looking to rebound after a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
Faulk said playing a three-in-four set didn't have detrimental effects on the team's effort tonight.
"It happens all the time," Faulk said. "It doesn't change. We still have to come out ready to play a full 60 minutes and play hard."
After putting up 18 shots on goal in each the first and second periods in New York on Saturday, the Hurricanes had just 18 total through 40 minutes tonight, and four of those came in the first period.
-- The game arguably turned right off the hop in the second period when the Hurricanes had the first power play of the match on a fresh sheet of ice. 44 seconds into that man advantage, Jonathan Toews was off to the races to tally shorthanded, his 21st goal of the season and second of the night.
A short while later, the Canes had the opportunity to trim the Blackhawks lead in half with 74 seconds of five-on-three time, but they could not convert.
"Any time you get a chance to start the period on the power play. It's huge, especially when you're down one," Faulk said. "Even if you don't score, you have to go out there and create some momentum. You usually don't expect the other team to do that, and you definitely can't give up shorthanded goals. That killed us."
"Five-on-threes are critical. If you can score on them, a lot of times it's going to push the momentum in your favor," Liles said. "If you kill them off, it obviously flips it a bit. That was a crucial point of the game, and unfortunately we weren't able to capitalize on it."
"That's the whole game right there," Peters said. "That's an opportunity to get it back to a one-goal game. Our power play let us down tonight, and we've got to figure it out for the next time we play them and be better."
Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger would make it a 4-0 game before heading into the second intermission.
"They played pretty well in the first, and we needed to come out better in the second," Faulk said. "They were able to keep going, and we weren't able to play catch up too well."
-- In a game in which the Hurricanes struggled to find a way past Corey Crawford, Andrej Nestrasil continues to make his way to the scoresheet. On a rush up the ice, Nathan Gerbe fed Nestrasil with a tape-to-tape pass, and instead of shooting, he pulled up and waited for the streaking John-Michael Liles, who then beat Crawford to break his shutout. It was Nestrasil’s fifth assist in just three games.
"Since he's been here, he's got 21 games played, four goals, nine assists and plus-7 as a Carolina Hurricane," Peters said. "Good things on a consistent basis."
-- Cam Ward allowed four goals on 18 shots in 40 minutes of work. He came into this game with a 3-0-2 record, a 1.17 goals-against average and two shutouts against Chicago in his career. Anton Khudobin played the final 20 minutes of the game in relief.
-- The Hurricanes will now return home, where they will spend a good bit of time in March. Friday’s tilt against Minnesota marks the first game in the first of two five-game homestands in the penultimate month of the season.
"We've got to get back to playing the way we were prior to tonight. Tonight's game wasn't very good, and we're not happy with the way we played," Peters said. "But if you look at it, we won three of our last four and played with a lot of pace. We've got to get back to playing with pace and have better execution with the puck."