Toews, Blackhawks hold on to beat Hurricanes

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[January 07, 2017]  CHICAGO -- After a frustrating start to the season, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews is starting to feel better.

Toews' latest pick-me-up arrived in the form of an opening goal Friday night. Teammate Artemi Panarin added a power-play goal, and the Blackhawks held on for a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"Usually your confidence builds when you start getting lucky and things start going in for you," said Toews, who has three goals in his past seven games and seven goals on the season. "Then you start loosening up and getting that creativity back in your game. It's nice to see a little offense lately and be a part of it with my linemates."

A stellar performance by Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling also was a welcome sight for Toews and his teammates. The 6-foot-6 netminder made 39 saves on 40 shots, which represented the most allowed by the Blackhawks this season.

Chicago (25-12-5) earned its second win in a row and improved to 15-4-4 on home ice.

"It was a big win," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Not a lot of time, not a lot of space out there with their quickness. They pressure you. ... Trying to win at home is what we're looking to do, and we'll take it."

Center Victor Rask scored the Hurricanes' lone goal. Carolina (17-15-7) lost the second game of a back-to-back set and dropped to 6-11-6 on the road.

"I thought we played good, but we've got to put the puck in the net," Rask said. "We had a lot of shots, but we need to create some more chances right in front."

Darling stymied Carolina with 19 saves in the first period, 11 saves in the second period and nine saves in the third period to improve to 11-4-2. He started for only the second time in the past seven games in place of No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford.

On one sequence, Darling denied Hurricanes center Jordan Staal on a shorthanded two-on-one rush. He also stopped a pair of hard shots by Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk during a Carolina power play. A sellout crowd praised Darling with several loud ovations throughout the game.

Hurricanes right winger Ty Rattie said Darling's size made him particularly challenging.

"He covers 95 percent of the net to begin with, and he's quick," Rattie said. "I think I've played him since I was 20 years old in the AHL, and he keeps getting better and better every year. It's going to be scary how good he gets as his career goes on."

Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward turned aside 22 of 24 shots in the loss.

A series of sharp passes helped Chicago jump to a 1-0 lead with 7:47 remaining in the first period.

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Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (74) fight for the puck during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

 Left winger Vinnie Hinostroza snapped a pass across the slot to right winger Marian Hossa, who quickly redirected the puck to Toews to the left of the crease. Toews flicked a one-timer into the net.

Chicago increased its lead to 2-0 on a power-play goal with 6:31 remaining in the second period.

Hurricanes right winger Viktor Stalberg broke his stick as he failed to clear the puck out of the zone. Moments later, Panarin scored on a pinpoint wrist shot from the left circle for his 16th goal of the season.

"I think we've had better starts getting ahead in games," Toews said.

Carolina cut the deficit to 2-1 in the waning moments of the second period. Darling denied a shot by Rattie from the slot, but Rask spotted the loose puck near the crease and swept a shot beneath the goaltender's pads to snap a nine-game scoring drought.

"I thought we had a lot of chances in the first," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We had some odd-man rushes and we had a couple power plays. We needed to get on the board there."

NOTES: Chicago assigned D Gustav Forsling and LW Spencer Abbott to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs before Friday's game. Forsling, 20, has one goal and three assists in 32 games with the Blackhawks but has received limited playing time as a rookie. Abbott, 28, was held scoreless in one game. ... Hurricanes LW Teuvo Teravainen returned to the United Center for the first time since Chicago traded him in June. The 22-year-old won a Stanley Cup ring with the Blackhawks in 2014-15. ... Blackhawks D Brian Campbell returned to the lineup after sitting out as a healthy scratch on Thursday against Buffalo. ... Hurricanes D Justin Faulk played for the second night in a row after missing four games because of a lower-body injury. ... Blackhawks D Michal Rozsival was a healthy scratch. ... Hurricanes C Andrej Nestrasil and D Matt Tennyson were healthy scratches.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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