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'Canes blank Blackhawks 3-0

by Kurt Dusterberg /
RALEIGH -- The RBC Center continues to be a house of horrors for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tim Brent, Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty scored for Carolina and Cam Ward stopped 30 shots for his 17th career shutout as the Hurricanes kept the Hawks winless in Raleigh with a 3-0 victory Friday night.

The Hawks have just one tie to show for their six trips to the RBC Center since the 'Canes moved there in 1999. Ward improved to 3-0-1 lifetime against the Hawks and has allowed just four goals in the four games.

Sutter, who anchors the Hurricanes checking line, scored his third goal of the season early in the third period to give Carolina a little breathing room at 2-0. He was exiting the penalty box when he gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, raced in alone and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford past his blocker at 5:39.

"Usually when you step out of the box, the last thing you're expecting is a chance like that," said Sutter. "I saw it coming and the d-man wasn't quite ready for it."

The goal maintained an unusual streak for Carolina's alternate captain. All three of his markers this season have come on breakaways. With each one-on-one opportunity, Sutter is determined to keep it simple.

"Just react -- I really don't have time to think," he said. "You just have to make a decision on where you're going to shoot and try to find a spot."

Sutter's breakaway success has led to questions about whether he belongs in the Carolina shootout rotation. Coach Paul Maurice, who has yet to warm to the idea, dismissed the latest reminder with good humor.

"If we can get a guy to chase him up the ice," he told the postgame media gathering. "We'll see if we can get him a chaser."

In practice, Sutter has had little success with shootout drills.

"He has a fairly long stick and he gets that shot off, and speed is the key piece to it. He gets it off real quick," Maurice said.

The victory snapped a three-game winless streak for the Hurricanes (4-3-3). The Blackhawks (5-2-2), failed to earn at least one point for only the second time this season.

The Hurricanes scored an insurance goal with 4:53 remaining when defenseman Bryan Allen patiently carried the puck down to the Chicago blue line before slipping a pass to Tlusty at the top of the crease for a tap-in. Tlusty was playing on the top line for the first time this season, as the Hurricanes search for some chemistry for Eric Staal's unit.

But the story of the game was defense and goaltending -- the Hurricanes were nearly flawless in front of Ward.

Carolina limited Chicago to mostly low-percentage shots through the first 30 minutes. The Blackhawks found their offensive stride in late in the second period, buzzing around Ward for some quality shots. Their best scoring chance came midway through the second period when Jonathan Toews broke in on a short breakaway, only to have Ward deny him with his right pad.

"I though Cam was really good in the second period," Maurice said. "In a game like that with those shooters, even some of the simple stuff is not easy.

"For either team to win, you're goalie has got to make one of those. (Toews) is maybe the best in the world at the in-alone, and at that point, you can almost feel it on the bench. It's not just the save, he's clearly right on his game."

Ward gave most of the credit to the defense in front of him.

"With the skill and talent they have, you knew they were going to get some scoring opportunities in the second period," Ward said. "I felt like I was really seeing the puck well and that was because of the guys in front of me who were clearing guys out and letting me see it."

The Blackhawks, who had earned at least a point in every game since an opening-night loss in Dallas, left their coach feeling flat.

"We got dominated in all areas of the game tonight," Joel Quenneville said. " They were the more determined team.

"We were still 1-0 in the third period and they got motivation (after the) power play or something, and the second goal was certainly not good."

The Hurricanes' best chance of the second period came on a Staal penalty shot with 2:38 remaining. With Chicago on the power play, Brent Seabrook hooked Staal, who had stolen the puck from the Blackhawks' defenseman and broken free on a breakaway. Staal couldn't convert the penalty shot, as the puck began bouncing as he closed in on Crawford, who kicked out the forehand wrister to keep the game at 1-0.

Brent had given the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 3:08 of the first period when Tim Gleason's shot from the right-wing boards deflected off his stick and past Crawford. It was the second goal of the season for Brent, who started the play by winning the draw back to Gleason.

Carolina earned a four-minute power play late in the period when Eric Staal was cut with a high stick, but the Blackhawks' penalty killers limited the Hurricanes to three shots. Patrick Kane served the penalty, although it appeared that Daniel Carcillo's stick caught Staal in the face.

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