By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes bounced back from a crushing weekend loss and posted a rejuvenated 3-2 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.
Sebastian Aho beat Chicago netminder Cam Ward at 1:16 into overtime and sealed the win over the Hurricanes’ all-time wins leader.
In scoring his fifth of the season, Aho ended a 12-game goalless streak and gave the 11,221 in attendance a new team celebration to share on social media.
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead when captain Jonathan Toews scored his ninth goal of the season at the 9:07 mark of the first period and was followed up by Alex DeBrincat’s ninth at 10:49 into the second.
“I didn’t like the start,” Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We came out a little sluggish and we knew they were going to come out flyin’, and they did. I give them a lot of credit, they looked like the Chicago Blackhawks of old there in the beginning. They were goin’ up and down and we were a little bit in quicksand. But, then as the game moved on, I though we got better and better.”
Carolina eventually evened it up by the 15:13 mark, going 2-for-2 on the power play on goals 1:06 apart from Micheal Ferland and Teuvo Teravainen.
Denting the pads
Both teams played into overtime fueled by the efforts of Ward and Carolina goalkeeper Scott Darling who made 37 and 32 saves, respectively.
Facing one another playing for their former teams, each showcased numerous exceptional stops and kept the contest close for the duration.
“He was very good, very good,” Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton said.
“He made some big saves for us at key times.”
“That’s what we need,” Brind’Amour added about Darling.
“We need saves at times when we break down. Cam made the big save on McGinn in the third, when you need it. He (Scott) was huge on that. We had some mental lapses to give up those breakaways – that’s all that was. Then we needed a goalie to help us out and he did.”
Ward tribute brings back memories
Returning for the first time since he signed with Chicago last summer, Ward was greeted with a video tribute during the game’s first media timeout.
While watching, both teams tapped sticks on the ice to honor the 2006 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
Toews tapped Ward’s pads before play resumed and proceeded to open the game’s scoring on a tip-in past Darling.
Brind’Amour showed his appreciation with some kind words afterwards.
“He’s a special person, and to me he’ll always be special. He helped me realize one of the dreams I’ve had my whole life,” he said.
“Winning a Stanley Cup, he was a part of that. I know what he put into this organization and seeing him out there was nice, and obviously the tribute was great. Some of his best days that I remember very well. So, that was a pretty special moment.”
Svechnikov goes down, gets back up
Midway through the third, Carolina rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov was shoved from behind by veteran Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and hit the end boards behind the Chicago net head first.
While he lay on the ice for about five seconds, linemate Jordan Martinook confronted Seabrook that resulted in a line dance of clutching from all players on the ice, including Svechnikov who eventually got up to join in.
Leaving the game to go through the league-mandated concussion protocol check, Svechnikov eventually returned with no apparent injury according to his coach.
“That was worrisome,” Brind’Amour said.
“Glad to see that he came back near the end of the game…He went in and did the protocol, so he missed a few shifts. Obviously they cleared him.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport