Persistence has steered the Carolina Hurricanes to a season-opening, eight-game winning streak.
The attribute was on display again Sunday, and they hope it will be present again Wednesday when the Hurricanes visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
Outshooting and out-chancing the winless Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, the Hurricanes broke through at last when defenseman Brett Pesce scored a go-ahead, power-play goal with 2:27 remaining to secure a 2-1 victory.
“The biggest thing for us was sticking with our game plan and not getting frustrated,” Pesce said. “Just doing it right over and over and continuing to wear them down minute by minute. I thought it was a gutsy win for us. Our team right now, we’re oozing confidence.”
Carolina is set to begin a three-game road trip Wednesday against a foe finally gaining confidence of its own. The Blackhawks earned their first win of the season Monday, routing the visiting Ottawa Senators 5-1.
After earning a mere two points in their first nine games, Chicago doubled that total behind a hat trick from Patrick Kane, two goals from Brandon Hagel and a 29-save effort from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Make no mistake, the Blackhawks feel as if a sizable weight got lifted from their shoulders.
“It’s more a big gorilla, it was not just a small monkey,” said Fleury, who carries a .970 save percentage over the past two games, having stopped 65 of 67 shots. “It definitely feels good. It’s been rough, right? It’s been tough.
“Guys stuck with it, kept practicing hard, kept trying hard and finally tonight things went well. It was fun to show the fans something to cheer about. It was a good time.”
Back in the lineup following a four-game absence due to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, Kane led in the revelry. In addition to his hat trick, he contributed an assist to record the 16th four-point game of his career.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton smirked about Kane’s doggedness on and off the ice. Kane had texted his coach about playing even 12 minutes Monday. Anything to play again.
“For him to step right in after 10 days, just a pretty special player,” Colliton said.
Kane missed Chicago 6-3 loss at Carolina on Friday, a game that saw the Hurricanes outscore the Blackhawks 4-2 in a wild first period. Ten Carolina players registered at least one point in the first 19 minutes of the game.
The Hurricanes’ Tony DeAngelo finished with a goal and two assists, Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist and Vincent Trocheck added two assists.
Carolina is the lone unbeaten team in the league as it continues the best start in club history. Goalie Frederik Andersen, who made 22 saves Sunday, has posted seven of the team’s wins but did not face Chicago last week.
Rookie Seth Jarvis assisted on Pesce’s goal Sunday as he filled in for Nino Niederreiter (lower-body injury).
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Jarvis had zero nerves.
“That’s what makes him special,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s out there at the end on the power play and in big, huge moments, making plays.”
The Blackhawks are seeking their first back-to-back victories since May 6 and 9, a mini surge that followed a six-game skid late last season.
“It’s a new month for us, and hopefully we can continue playing the way we did (Monday) because we were pretty solid all the way around,” Kane said.
–Field Level Media