The Carolina Hurricanes are learning to keep pucks out of their net – and they’re finally showing signs of climbing from the depths of the Eastern Conference.Justin Faulk and Victor Rask scored, backup Eddie Lack stopped 35 shots and the Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 2-1 on Sunday night for their third win in four games and seventh in their last 11.Brent Seabrook spoiled Lack’s shutout bid with 3 seconds left and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford on the bench for an extra attacker. The Blackhawks lost 4-0 to Dallas in their previous game on Tuesday night.
”We’re going the right way,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. ”We play more of a puck-possession game. Our D skate better and is very young. That’s exciting.”
Lack wasn’t consistently tested until the Blackhawks outshot Carolina 19-9 in the third period. No. 1 goalie Cam Ward got the night off while the Hurricanes played on the second night in a row.
”(Lack) played great,” Faulk said. ”Wardo played good, too (Saturday), and any time you have that going, you get a little bit more comfortable. You can make a few more plays and not worry about turning it over too much when they’re on their game.”
Faulk scored his second even-strength goal of the season after netting his first on Saturday night in the Hurricanes’ 3-1 win over New Jersey. The Carolina defenseman leads the NHL with 12 power-play goals and is tied for the team lead with 14 goals overall.The Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner had two assists.Crawford made 25 saves, but the Blackhawks were nearly blanked for the second straight game.
”They blocked a lot of shots, but we were looking to make too many plays, either entering their zone or into the slot, that were denied,” Joel Quenneville said. ”We have to get greasier goals.”
The coach suggested Carolina and Lack might have gotten a little lucky, too.
”I counted about six chances that were either empty-net or potential empty-nets that we either misfired or didn’t bear down or weren’t hungry enough,” Quenneville said.
The Blackhawks outshot the Hurricanes 12-11 in the scoreless first and had the better of the few chances in the frame.Lack stretched to make a point-blank glove save on Jonathan Toews’ backhander at 7:45 of the second after Toews skated across the crease unchecked.Carolina’s Andrej Nestrasil’s shot hit the left post with just under 3 minutes left in the second.Faulk finally opened the scoring with 18.2 seconds left in the period when he fooled Crawford with a rising, screened shot from the left circle. With Seabrook blocking Crawford’s view, Faulk’s shot sailed over the goalie’s blocker.Rask made it 2-0 at 4:45 of the third from a faceoff with another screened shot. With Phillip Di Guiseppe parked in the crease, Rask beat Crawford high on the glove side from the right circle for his 10th goal.Lack made a couple of alert saves in the final minutes to nearly preserve his shutout. He stopped NHL leading scorer Patrick Kane from the doorstep with 40 seconds left.But Seabrook cut it to 2-1 when his shot from the slot slipped under Lack’s pads and trickled in.
NOTES—Blackhawks F Marian Hossa returned after missing two games with an injury. … Seabrook played in his 800th career game. … Carolina forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, members of the Blackhawks 2014-15 Stanley Cup team, skated against their former club or the first time since being traded to the Hurricanes in September in a move to open salary cap space. … The two teams will meet again on Jan. 26 in Raleigh, N.C.