By BOB SUTTON | Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Antti Raanta made 24 saves for his first shutout since March and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on Tuesday night for their ninth consecutive victory.
Martin Necas, Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook scored to help the Hurricanes extend their franchise-record points streak to 15 games.
“If we keep playing like this, we’re going to get lots of wins,” Raanta said. “It’s a good confidence-booster, but I don’t think we’re worrying too much about the streak. We just want to improve and play good hockey.”
Raanta, making his third consecutive start, had his 16th career shutout. He faced only seven shots in both the first and third periods.
There were dominating stretches for the Hurricanes, so Raanta had to make sure he was ready when called upon.
“It’s almost our trademark here that the first 10, 15 minutes, it’s usually at the other end,” he said. “You just try to keep yourself warm and focused.”
The Blackhawks, who were aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time since late October, have lost nine of their last 10. They’ve been shut out in three of those defeats.
Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek made 46 saves against one of his former teams.
The Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division, racked up their seventh straight win on home ice. This came against the team with the worst record in the NHL.
“We’re supposed to win those games, but you still have to go and do it right, and we did,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
The Hurricanes put 23 shots on goal in the first period, a season high for any period. They scored twice in the opening nine minutes.
“We were lucky it was only 2-0,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said.
The Hurricanes were pleased that the three-day holiday break didn’t interrupt their winning rhythm.
“For all of us, it’s fun,” Necas said. “Anytime you’re winning, it’s fun. We’re just trying to play the game the right way, I guess, and it has been working.”
Necas battled for space in front of the net and was rewarded by getting enough stick on the puck to put it in the goal for his 15th of the season. He had 14 goals in 72 regular-season games a season ago.
Fast, who picked up his third goal in two games and fifth of the season, benefitted when the puck went in off Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy.
Chicago surrendered the first goal for the 27th time in 33 games.
“We knew they were fast,” Richardson said. “We just weren’t really moving our feet much. I thought we found our legs in the second period.”
Martinook’s ninth goal of the season came at 4:55 of the third period shortly after Carolina’s power play expired.
The other meeting between the teams also ended in a 3-0 victory for Carolina. That Nov. 14 game in Chicago had a similar theme.
“This is a team that did it twice to us this year,” Richardson said. “They got off to quick starts. Chasing this team, they’re a pretty quick team. It’s hard to do.”
Paul Stastny picked up an assist on Carolina’s first goal. It came on his 37th birthday. He has played 11 games on his birthday in his NHL career, collecting seven points in those outings. … The Hurricanes hadn’t reached the 23-shot level in a first period since April 17, 2021, vs. Nashville. … Carolina has recorded four shutouts this season, but this was the first on home ice.
Blackhawks: At St. Louis on Thursday night.
Hurricanes: Host Florida on Friday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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