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Recap: Canes Blank Blackhawks

Mrazek makes 32 saves in second shutout of season

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Led by Petr Mrazek's 32-save shutout and Andrei Svechnikov's two-goal performance, the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-0.

Nino Niederreiter (1g, 1a) and Sebastian Aho (2a) chipped in with two points each to help the Canes snap a three-game winless skid (0-2-1).

Here are five takeaways from Saturday afternoon in Raleigh.

1. Back in the Win Column

The Hurricanes had played just three games over the last 10 days, so it had been some time since they last ticked in the win column. It had been even longer since they had played a home game.

To return home and not only win but do so in fairly dominant fashion was indeed an ideal way for the Canes to begin a four-game homestand.

"Definitely in the last five games, this is one of the better games we've played," Niederreiter said. "We know what we have to do to be successful."

"Overall I thought it was a pretty solid game from start to finish," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I loved the way we played in the third with the lead. Still going after it but doing it right."

The third period was arguably the Canes' best. They turned their 2-0 lead into a three-goal advantage and remained aggressive, not giving an inch to the Blackhawks. And when they did have their scoring chances, Mrazek was a brick wall between the pipes.

"We knew we could be better, and I think we showed it tonight when we had the lead in the third period. That's how we want to play," Mrazek said. "It's important for us to get going, especially now with four games at home. Every point matters, and we have to prepare for it like we did today."

2. Mrazzle Dazzle

There's no place like home for Petr Mrazek, who has now won each of his last 13 starts at PNC Arena.

"I did not know that. Glad I started him tonight," Brind'Amour smiled.

Mrazek made 32 saves on 32 shots and earned first-star honors for his second shutout of the season.

Video: CHI@CAR: Mrazek notches clean sheet in 4-0 win

"I saw the puck really well, and the guys did a great job in front of me," he said.

One of Mrazek's saves of the afternoon came late in the first period when the Blackhawks were buzzing, and Patrick Kane had a scoring chance on the doorstep. Mrazek extended his right pad across the crease to turn Kane aside, and chants of "Petr! Petr!" rang out through the arena.

"He's an emotional guy. Very competitive. I think it's a great relationship between him and our crowd," Brind'Amour said. "They kind of feed off each other, and I think they know he gets going when they're rooting him on. It's fun."

About midway through the second period, Mrazek came up big again on Dylan Strome, who skated in untouched and saw his shot bodied down by No. 34 in red.

"Phenomenal. He was sharp," Brind'Amour said. "The difference in coming out with a decent first period was because of him. It enabled us to just keep going, and he was solid all the way."

3. Winning the Special Teams Game

The Hurricanes batted one thousand in the special teams game, going 2-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

To convert on the man advantage not just once but twice is two steps in the right direction for a power play that had scored on just one of its last 19 opportunities.

"It's nice to win a game on special teams," Brind'Amour said. "That's huge if you can pull away in that area, and we did."

It took Andrei Svechnikov just five seconds on the team's first power play of the game to open the scoring. Erik Haula won the initial faceoff, and Svechnikov kicked it back to Dougie Hamilton at the point. Hamilton walked to his right to attract a defender before sliding the puck back over to Svechnikov, who snapped a shot right by Corey Crawford.

Video: CHI@CAR: Svechnikov snipes the twine for a PPG

"I think I got a little bit on that shot," Svechnikov smiled. "The goalie didn't see that shot."

"That good shot finally paid off for him," Brind'Amour said.

Video: CHI@CAR: Staal puts away Aho's excellent pass for PPG

The Canes grinded out their second power-play goal of the game, a nice passing play ending up on the stick of Jordan Staal, who potted his second of the season. From behind the cage, Nino Niederreiter dished to Sebastian Aho, who spotted Staal cutting untouched through the slot. Aho put a pass on Staal's tape, and the big man one-timed it just under Crawford's blocker arm to stretch the score to 3-0 in the third period.

4. Nino Breaks Through

It was only a matter of time until Nino Niederreiter found the back of the net, and his first of the season capped a dominant shift against Chicago's top line in the second period.

After hounding the puck and dogging retrievals, the Canes popped the puck out to the point where Jaccob Slavin walked the line and dealt off to Niederreiter at the top of the left circle. Niederreiter froze Brent Seabrook with a quick move before winding up a wrist shot that scorched past Crawford.

Video: CHI@CAR: Niederreiter nets wrist shot to extend lead

"At the end of the day, [Brind'Amour] wants us to just work hard and do the little things right. Everything else would come," Niederreiter said. "It has been a while since the puck went in, so I'm very happy to find one in."

"For him, I love it," Brind'Amour said. "He needed that."

5. Svechnikov Nets Two

Andrei Svechnikov ranked tied for third on the team in scoring with eight points coming into Saturday's game, but just one of those eight points was a goal - and it was an empty netter. Svechnikov tallied twice on Saturday, a blazing snap shot for the first power-play goal of his career in the first period and a fortuitous bounce to make it a 4-0 game in the third.

Video: CHI@CAR: Svechnikov scores after fortunate bounce

A centering feed from Aho came off the stick of Svechnikov before pinballing off the glove of Duncan Keith and popping over Crawford's shoulder.

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The Hurricanes' four-game homestand rolls along on Tuesday when the Calgary Flames make their first and only appearance of the season.

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