The Hurricanes' Early Onslaught is More Than Enough as They Handle Bedard, Chicago

Bedard records three points in his Raleigh debut, but the Canes put five past their former teammate to push their win streak to three games.
Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Blackhawks v Carolina Hurricanes / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

After a successful end to their road trip through the Southwest, the Carolina Hurricanes were back on home ice as they welcomed Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks to PNC Arena. The Canes closed their trip with back-to-back wins over Arizona and Vegas, with the latter featuring a strong defensive performance down the stretch. The team was looking to stay hot in front of the Caniacs during their return home.

There was one change to the lineup as Jalen Chatfield was announced to be out for this game with an upper-body injury, likely stemming from a huge hit he received from Ivan Barbashev on Saturday. This meant Tony DeAngelo would draw back into the lineup. With Pyotr Kochetkov a little under the weather, Spencer Martin earned his second straight start after a brilliant performance in Vegas. Former Hurricane Petr Mrazek was in the net for Chicago.

There was no lag from this group against a team at the bottom of the standings. The Hurricanes swarmed Petr Mrazek's net for almost three minutes straight. The momentum was squashed when they took two penalties 19 seconds apart, with Brett Pesce and Seth Jarvis each sitting. The penalty kill dug in and got some stops from Spencer Martin to help kill it as the fans roared with approval.


After the extended 5-on-3 was killed, the Canes got right back to it. It took one bad decision from Petr Mrazek to get the Canes on the board first. The Chicago netminder opted to hold on to a puck that had been dumped in from beyond the center line, meaning Chicago couldn't change. On the ensuing draw, the opening tally was created. Martin Necas did some hard work below the goal line to set up Michael Bunting on his backhand as the Canes broke the ice with 8:15 left. As much time as the Canes spent in the offensive zone, this would be their only marker of the period, leading 1-0 at the break.

The beginning of the second period is when the rout began. With the help of a pinching Tony DeAngelo to force an errant pass, Martin Necas jumped in and intercepted the puck before walking through the defense and elevating a shot over the glove of his fellow countryman to double the lead less than two minutes into the period. Almost six minutes later, they got another. Dmitry Orlov's cross-ice pass found Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who sniped a shot past Mrazek from the right dot to end a 22-game goalless drought.

Almost two and a half minutes after making it 3-0, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov decided to have a little fun with the Blackhawks. Svechnikov carried the puck into the zone and skated it around the net. He interchanged with Aho, who received the pass from Svechnikov and carried it in the other direction behind Petr Mrazek. Instead of trying to stuff it home, Aho waited and snapped it as he skated from behind the net, giving him 20 goals on the season and the Canes a 4-0 lead. Nick Foligno would sneak a backhander past Spencer Martin late in the period to get Chicago on the board, but it was all Carolina after 40 minutes.

Carolina's power play, which had come up empty on its first two chances, got a third chance to work early in the third period. It took them a while, but Brent Burns eventually snapped home a Sebastian Aho rebound from a tough angle to make it 5-1. Connor Bedard thought he'd gotten one back for the Blackhawks, but it was declared offside after the Canes challenged. However, he would find the back of the net a few minutes later, burying a goal on the power play. A little over two minutes later, Bedard set up Tyler Johnson on the power play to shrink the Canes' lead to two goals with just under 11 minutes left. Chicago wouldn't generate much else, allowing Jordan Martinook to hit double-digits by sinking the empty-netter from center ice as the Canes cruised to a 6-3 win.

This was the kind of game I expected to see from the Hurricanes coming off their road trip against a rebuilding opponent. Connor Bedard was as advertised, factoring in on all three of Chicago's goals, but he was dormant for the better part of two periods. The Aho line was matched up against him for the entire night, and they kept him at bay at 5-on-5. Bedard was also on the receiving end of a brutal reverse hit from Sebastian Aho early in the game.

Speaking of Aho, he was one in a long line of players who were phenomenal in this one. Aho, Martin Necas, and Seth Jarvis each finished with two points. Of the team's 18 skaters, 13 had a point, including 11 of the 12 forwards, and everyone had at least one shot as the group finished with 42. Jesperi Kotkaniemi finally got the piano off his back with his first goal in two months. Spencer Martin didn't need to be incredible like he was in Boston or Vegas, but he was sharp early in his first home start as a Hurricane.

Thursday night's battle against the visiting Florida Panthers is one of the biggest games of the regular season. When they met in November in Sunrise, the Panthers ran the show. Now, the Panthers sit near the top of the Eastern Conference with an 11-game road win streak on the line. A win in Raleigh would tie them for the longest regular-season road winning streak in league history. Meanwhile, the Canes will be looking to extend their win streak to four games while trying to get some revenge.