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Puck possession fails Blackhawks in 3-2 loss to Hurricanes

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It’s hard to score when you don’t have the puck.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

A dominant puck-possession performance by the Carolina Hurricanes cost the Blackhawks on Thursday night, as they lost 3-2 at the United Center.

Carolina owned a 65-32 advantage in shot attempts at even strength and a 39-23 shot advantage overall. If not for a strong effort from Chicago goalie Jean-Francois Berube, this game could’ve significantly worse.

Despite getting out-shot and out-chanced all game, the Blackhawks actually grabbed a lead twice in the first period. Tomas Jurco redirected a Brent Seabrook point shot for a 1-0 Hawks lead at 6:02 of the first period.

Carolina tied the game four minutes later when Jaccob Slavin’s point shot redirected off the stick of Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy and past Berube. The Hawks were back ahead five minutes later when Anthony Duclair poked the puck free of Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling, and Patrick Sharp was able to muscle the rebound into the net.

The Hawks took a 2-1 lead into the second, but it didn’t last much longer. As a Chicago power play expired, Carolina’s Justin Williams exited the box and was immediately set off on a breakaway, which he scored on to tie the game at two. Carolina kept its foot on the gas for the rest of the period, although it was unable to break the deadlock. But by the end of the second period, the possession battle was firmly in Carolina’s favor and that didn’t change in the third.

What did change in the third was the score. Carolina got its game-winning goal when Teuvo Teravainen (because, of course) fired a shot on net that Sebastian Aho tipped past Berube for a power play goal. The Hurricanes smothering ways continued for the rest of the game, helping them keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff chase by picking up a pair of points with the win.

3 Thoughts

Turnovers. Dear Lord, the turnovers.

I don’t have to say much more on this topic than pointing out that the Hawks turned over the puck at an alarmingly high rate. Defensive zone, neutral zone, offensive, zone it didn’t matter. When the puck left the stick of one Hawks player, it rarely found the tape of another Hawks player.

Berube was solid again, wasn’t he?

Because of the aforementioned turnovers, it was an all-out assault on Fort Berube in the Blackhawks net. But Berube kept the Hawks in this game, which is more than can be said for countless other games since the calendar turned to 2018. Another chapter in the case for Berube to be the backup next season.

A dismal night for the Hawks’ top trio.

When Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad are put together on the same line, good things usually happen. Thursday’s game was the exception to that rule, and an emphatic one. Kane’s CF% was 18.2%, and that was the highest number among those three forwards. Putting those three together isn’t a bad idea. But when they get out-possessed at such a drastic rate, this team doesn’t have much of a chance.

[Update] It wasn’t just dismal ... it was historically dismal, as The Athletic’s Scott Powers pointed out.

3 Stars

  1. Justin Williams (CAR) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Elias Lindholm (CAR) — 2 assists
  3. Jean-Francois Berube (CHI) — 37 saves