CHICAGO – Even without Patrick Kane—and despite a run of sloppy plays and penalties—the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to buckle down and beat the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jonathan Toews’ short-handed breakaway goal early in the third period snapped a tie, and lifted the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory on Friday night.
Patrick Sharp scored his team-leading 30th goal and Kris Versteeg ended an eight-game drought to help the Blackhawks pull out a win without Kane, the team’s leading scorer who was placed on long-term injured reserve after sustaining a lower-body injury in Chicago’s victory over St. Louis on Wednesday.
The Blackhawks were also without injured forwards Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell, and defenceman Michal Rozsival.
“That’s one of those things, we have to learn how to play without our best players,” Toews said. “We’ve done it without Hoss (Marian Hossa), and now Sadder and Kaner.
“It doesn’t matter. If someone’s nursing something, we have to find a way to fill that void.”
Sharp has scored at least 30 goals four times in his career. He has reached the mark in the past three full NHL seasons.
Corey Crawford made 26 saves as defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago tightened up defensively and overcame mistakes late in the second period and early in the third that helped the Hurricanes fight back from a two goal deficit.
“That’s a game we can look back on during the playoffs as being able to shut a team down in the last five minutes,” Crawford said. “I don’t think they got a shot in the last five minutes. That’s the way you want to play.”
Carolina’s Alexander Semin scored his 20th and 21st goals 3:36 apart, but the Hurricanes lost to Chicago for the second time this season. The Blackhawks beat Carolina in a road shootout on Oct. 15 in their only other meeting this season.
Semin tied it off a faceoff during a 5-on-3 power play at 2:58 of the third. Eric Staal won the draw and fed Semin, who fired in a screened shot from the top of the left circle.
Semin had cut Chicago’s lead to 2-1 with 37.7 seconds left in the second. He was open in the right circle, took Staal’s pass from the left boards and fired a quick shot past Crawford’s glove.
“We gave them some excitement to their game at the end of the second,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We took six penalties in a row, a stretch of six penalties that got them right back in the game.
“Then Johnny scored a huge goal for us, which was very timely.”
Toews’ third short-handed goal at 3:29 of the third put Chicago ahead for good.
A shot by Staal rimmed all the way around the boards in the Chicago zone and came out to centre ice. Toews got the puck, skated in alone, and beat Anton Khudobin with a high backhander.
“Obviously I missed the shot down the wing,” Staal said. “I wanted to go high glove, and they got a good bounce and good player going the other way on a breakaway.”
Once Toews put Chicago in front, the Blackhawks sparkled defensively in the third period and held on to extend their point streak to four games (3-0-1).
Khudobin stopped 22 shots after a career-best 46 saves in Carolina’s win at Columbus on Tuesday.
Kane, who could miss the rest of the regular season, was injured in a collision with St. Louis’ Brenden Morrow. He left the ice under his own power, favouring his left leg.
Earlier Friday, Chicago recalled top prospect Teuvo Teravainen and forward Jeremy Morin from Rockford of the AHL.
The 19-year-old Teravainen, Chicago’s first-round selection in the 2012 draft, didn’t play against Carolina.
The Blackhawks came out flying in the scoreless first and outshot Carolina 11-4.
The Hurricanes didn’t record their first shot until Nathan Gerbe forced Crawford to make a glove save 11:21 in.
Sharp opened the scoring on a breakaway at 3:09 of the second. He took a stretch pass up the middle from Andrew Shaw and accelerated past defencemen Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey. He beat Khudobin with a high backhander on the stick side.
Versteeg made it 2-0 with 3:34 left in the second during 4-on-4 play. Defenceman Nick Leddy carried the puck down to the left corner, then centred a pass to Versteeg, who beat Khudobin on the glove side.
NOTES: Kane must sit out a minimum of 10 games and 24 days. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said there is “no reason to think he won’t” be ready for the playoffs. … Morin has one goal and four assists in 15 games with Chicago this season. … D David Rundblad played in his second game with the Blackhawks since being acquired from Phoenix. … Carolina D John-Michael Liles returned after missing six games with a concussion, C Jiri Tlusty came back after sitting out two with a lower-body injury, and C Elias Lindholm and D Justin Faulk played after missing the previous game because of illnesses.