Hurricanes blank Blackhawks, enter break on high

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[January 27, 2016]  RALEIGH, N.C. -- Probably the last thing the Carolina Hurricanes need is time off because they are on a roll.

"I know we wanted to finish hard going into the break," coach Bill Peters said after the Hurricanes blitzed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 Tuesday night at PNC Arena.

Center Riley Nash scored two goals, and the Hurricanes were so effective on offense that they cooled red-hot Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who lasted only one period.

"We've played a lot of top teams pretty tough," Nash said. "I think we know we're there. ... They've been one of the best teams for six, seven years. We knew this was a measuring stick."

The Hurricanes put up five goals for the second game in a row, winning for the third time in four games prior to the All-Star break.

Not only did the impressive performance come against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, but it came on a rare national television appearance for the Hurricanes.

"We don't get on national TV often," captain Eric Staal said, "but when we do, we want to put a good foot forward."

Center Jeff Skinner, defenseman John-Michael Liles and center Joakim Nordstrom also scored for Carolina (23-20-8), while goalie Eddie Lack made 26 saves for the shutout.

Lack has two shutouts this season, both coming in the past four games. He has eight shutouts in his 104-game NHL career. Lack is 2-0-0 against Chicago this season.

"I don't feel like we gave them much," Lack said.

It was a startling outing for Crawford, who was coming off a shutout of the St. Louis Blues two days earlier. He gave up three goals on 16 shots and was replaced by Scott Darling, who saved 22 of the 24 shots he faced.

"It was pretty evident right from the beginning that we were in a lot of trouble," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was an ugly game across the board, and nothing positive came out of it except it's over."

The Blackhawks (33-16-4) have been mostly stellar for the past month, but they lost twice to the Hurricanes during that span.

"It gives everyone throughout the lineup a little confidence," Nash said.

Skinner knocked in a rebound for the first goal 2:12 into the game, and that seemed to spark Carolina, which held a 16-6 edge in shots through one period. It was the team-high 18th goal of the season for Skinner -- after a scoring change took the goal away from center Jay McClement.

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The Hurricanes led 5-0 through two periods. Nash scored the game's fifth goal, giving him four goals this season as he doubled his total in the game's first 32 1/2 minutes.

Carolina's offensive output marked the team's best two-game stretch in more than a month. For the third time in the past six games, the Hurricanes reached the 40-shot mark.

Since a 12-game winning streak, the Blackhawks have lost three of four games. Still, they enter the break with the best record in the Western Conference.

"We have a great stretch and then we come up with not enough energy at the end of it," Quenneville said. "But we played three teams that play well in their own buildings. Give them some credit."

NOTES: The Hurricanes claimed the only other meeting this season with the Blackhawks, winning 2-1 on Dec. 27 at Chicago. That was the final game before Chicago's 12-game winning streak. ... Carolina RW Kris Versteeg, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks, had an assist. He has 23 points in 25 home games this season. ... Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks announced a three-year contract extension through the 2020-21 season for general manager Stan Bowman, who has been in that role since July 2009. ... Hurricanes first-round draftee D Noah Hanifin turned 19 on Monday. ... Carolina G Cam Ward, who sustained a concussion last week, returned to on-ice work. He is expected to be ready when the team resumes play after the All-Star break. ... The Tuesday game began a four-game road stretch for the Blackhawks, but the other three are after the break, beginning Feb. 2 at Colorado. ... Carolina's next game is Feb. 3 at Calgary for the start of a three-game road swing. The Hurricanes don't play at home again until Feb. 12.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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