RALEIGH, N.C. -- There was a sense among the Chicago Blackhawks that they needed a win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday despite their 8-2-1 record in their previous 11 games.
They got the result they were looking for, even if it came without many style points.
Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp scored 79 seconds apart in the first period, and Corey Crawford made 43 saves for a 3-1 win at PNC Arena.
"The first 10 minutes it looked like it was going to be a different kind of game, and then they started skating really well in the second and third period," Sharp said. "If it wasn't for our goaltender, it could have been a lot different."
It was career coaching win No. 750 for Joel Quenneville, who is third all-time (750-432-106 with 77 ties) behind Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour.
Chicago moved to within two points of the Nashville Predators for second place in the Central Division and three points of the St. Louis Blues for first with the victory.
When Shaw scored his second goal of the night into an empty net with 40 seconds remaining, Jonathan Toews earned his 500th NHL point with an assist.
The Hurricanes (26-36-10) have lost nine of their past 11. Anton Khudobin made 22 saves in a strong effort. He entered the game with the fourth-lowest goal support per game (1.93) in the League.
"[Khudobin] made some big saves too and kept the game close," Crawford said.
The Blackhawks (44-22-6) struggled to find their offense in the opening minutes, but then connected for the two quick goals.
Marcus Kruger found Shaw wide open in the slot for his 11th of the season at 7:48 on Chicago's first shot of the night. Sharp had the second assist.
"Kruger made a great play," Shaw said. "I was fortunate to be all alone in the slot. I wasn't going to miss."
The Blackhawks also found the net on their second shot. Niklas Hjalmarsson dug the puck off the boards in the neutral zone and fed Marian Hossa, whose pinpoint centering pass to Sharp for a redirect past Khudobin gave Chicago a 2-0 lead at 9:07.
The Blackhawks had a couple more good chances before the end of the period, but Brandon Saad lost the puck off his backhand above the crease, and Antoine Vermette shot wide from the slot.
Carolina cut the lead to 2-1 when Victor Rask cleaned up a rebound at 3:54 of the second. John-Michael Liles' long pass through the middle of the ice connected with Eric Staal in stride. Crawford got square to Staal's shot, but Rask made a strong net drive for his 11th goal.
That was all Carolina could muster despite 19 second-period shots. Though the quantity of shots was high, Chicago managed to keep most of the attempts to the outside, and Crawford was able to see them and freeze shots for faceoffs.
"What we did to them in the first, they did to us in the second," Quenneville said. "We hung on in the third, but Crawford was solid. We've still got to be better than that though. It looked like they had some good opportunities to get it to 2-2."
The Blackhawks matched the Hurricanes' push with a strong effort in their own zone the rest of the way. Chicago blocked 25 shots, four each from Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival. Seabrook made a key block on Liles with Crawford out of position in the second period, and Saad got in front of Staal's chance from the slot with Crawford down in the third.
"We gave them all the reason in the world to keep working and stay in the game," Toews said. "Once they got going, we just worked at containing them and making sure we were playing smart with the lead."
The Blackhawks are 23-0-0 when leading after the second period.
"We always go into the third period with a one-goal lead thinking we're going to keep working and keep checking and trying to key off the other team's offensive mistakes," Toews said. "But we had some great goaltending by Crawford. It was a huge reason we snuck that one out."
With the win secured, the Blackhawks could take a moment to acknowledge Quenneville's accomplishment.
"It's been an honor to play for him all these years, to be part of a lot of those wins," Sharp said. "He's a fun coach to play for. He's got more intensity than the players do in practice, preseason games, regular-season games, playoff games. He's always into it, and that filters down to our team."
For the Hurricanes, it was the fourth time in the past six games they have scored one goal or fewer.
"(We had) a little bit of a hard time scoring, but we didn't start on time," said Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, discussing a common theme in Carolina losses this season. "We weren't sharp early. We didn't make plays. We batted the puck around, so we defended for a whole period of hockey. It's a hard way to make a living."