The Carolina Hurricanes extended their point streak to 13 games (9-0-4), equaling a franchise-best, in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Canes closed out their 28-game home schedule in the regular season by earning nine of a possible 10 points in a five-game homestand and five of a possible six points in a three-game set against Chicago. The Canes also whittled down their magic number to win the Central Division to two points.
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
Plus: Martin Necas and Petr Mrazek
Petr Mrazek, making his second consecutive start since returning from a lower-body injury, was sharp and on his game.
"Best player, for sure," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He was great."
Mrazek's countryman agreed.
"He made some big saves. We didn't help him enough. We gave up too many grade A's," Necas said. "There's no chance we can play like that in the playoffs."
A redirection goal from Riley Stillman - the first of his career, scored in the building where his dad lifted the Stanley Cup 15 years ago, no less - late in regulation tied the game, and Alex DeBrincat sniped the game-winner in overtime.
Martin Necas tallied the lone goal for the Canes, and it came almost 10 minutes into the game. Duncan Keith couldn't handle the puck at the blue line and then took an inadvertent knee to the head from the linesman. That allowed Necas to scurry to the lose puck, and the speedy Czech was off to the races. He beat Collin Delia, who finished with 36 saves, with a backhander.
Video: CHI@CAR: Necas pots SHG on the breakaway
Minus: The overall performance
The Canes were not satisfied with their performance. Yes, they peppered Delia with 37 shots. Yes, they were about even with Chicago in high-danger scoring opportunities. But it wasn't *their* game.
"We talk about the process and doing it right? Crap," Brind'Amour bluntly assessed. "That's frustrating. I get it, but it's not how we want it to look."
It's tough to be frustrated with the outcome when evaluating the larger picture. The Canes are two points away from winning their first division title since 2005-06. They still could finish in first place in the entire NHL. It's been a banner season, and though it wasn't a picture-perfect game, they still managed a point. The last game they lost in regulation was on April 12.
"We needed to get our butts kicked, to be quite honest with you, just so we can show that's not how it works," Brind'Amour said. "It's just not good enough. We can't play like that next week, that's for sure. I get it. It's tough. The guys have done a great job all year to get us in this position, but if we do it how we always talk about in worrying about today that was not a good game."
Come back to the rink tomorrow. Digest some film. Correct the mistakes. Finish the regular season strong.
"We got a point out of it, great, but we got beat tonight, for sure," Brind'Amour said. "It has to be a learning experience."
3: In 28 games at home this season, the Canes failed to earn a point just three times. They finish the regular season with a 20-3-5 record at PNC Arena.
4: After not recording a shorthanded point through his first 72 career NHL games, Necas has now scored a shorthanded goal in back-to-back games and leads the team with four shorthanded points (2g, 2a) this season.
7: The Canes rank fourth in the NHL with seven shorthanded goals this year.
Quote of the Night
"I think we all feel ready to go. We're excited for it. Two more games. We have to battle hard and get the confidence on track for playoffs." - Petr Mrazek
It's time for a new opponent in a new city! The Canes close out the regular season with a two-game set in Nashville beginning on Saturday.