Delia Makes 36 Saves; Chicago Tops Carolina 2-1 in Overtime
Raleigh, NC -- Collin Delia made 36 saves and earned first-star honors, as the Chicago Blackhawks (23-25-6, 52pts) defeated the Carolina Hurricanes (36-10-8, 80pts) 2-1 in overtime.
Alex DeBrincat scored the overtime game-winner for Chicago; Riley Stillman got his first NHL goal.
Martin Necas scored his 14th of the season for Carolina.
Hurricanes' head coach Rod Brind'Amour had a blunt assessment of his team's final regular-season home game.
"In the big picture, yes [it was a great homestand]. But tonight, you talk about the process, [it was] crap. That's frustrating, but I get it."
The Canes wrapped up a five-game homestand that saw them take nine of a possible ten points.
Yet, in the fifth game, the team had arguably their worst performance of the season. In the end, a fantastic 25-save performance from Petr Mrazek (6-1-3, .934 SV%, 1.77 GAA) earned the team a point in the standings.
"[Mrazek] Best player. Best player for sure; he played great," Brind'Amour said.
Canes forward Martin Necas agreed.
"[Mrazek] made some big saves; we didn't help him enough. We gave up too many [great chances]...There is no chance we can play like that in the playoffs."
The game was loose from the start and played almost entirely at even strength.
At 8:27 of the first period, Teuvo Teravainen was called for a borderline hooking penalty.
The Chicago powerplay resulted in the only goal of the night for the Hurricanes.
Duncan Keith was unable to hold the puck in at the offensive blue line and went into the neutral zone to retrieve it. Unfortunately for Keith and the Blackhawks, the former Norris Trophy winner slipped. His head collided with the linesman.
Martin Necas was the beneficiary of Keith's misfortune. He gathered up the puck and scored a shorthanded goal; Keith would miss the rest of the game.
However, that was the lone offensive highlight for the Canes. Instead of the team's typical grinding style, the Canes got into a track meet with Blackhawks--giving up multiple odd-man breaks.
"The first two periods, [we were] just giving up breakaways and two-on-ones and no coverage. It was just sloppy all over," Brind'Amour said.
"We had some chances, but we gave up way more. I don't even know how many breakaways and two-on-ones they had...We're lucky today we got the one point," Necas said.
In the end, Riley Stillman, son of former Canes Stanley Cup winner Cory Stillman, tied the game at 16:59 of the third period. It was Stillman's first NHL goal.
In overtime, Alex DeBrincat buried a shot to send the Blackhawks home with the extra point.
Brind'Amour looked for the positives in the loss.
"We needed to get our butts kicked to be totally honest with you. Just so we could show, 'this is not how it works'...We can't play like that next week. That's for sure."
Petr Mrazek, playing his second game in three nights, was praised by his head coach.
"Well, he looked good tonight. So, if we get that kind of peformance, he kept us in a game that we had no business being in. So, as long as he feels good, he dusted off the rust. He looks like he's ready to go," Brind'Amour said.
For his part, Mrazek was ready to look ahead.
"We all feel ready to go [for the playoffs]. We're excited for it. We just have to [play] two more games; we have to battle hard and get the confidence on track for the playoffs."
Collin Delia (1-3-0, .903 SV%, 3.33 GAA) made 36 saves on 37 shots faced. This was his first win of the season for Chicago.
Jani Hakanpaa had an assist for the Canes.
Pius Suter, Dominik Kubalik, and Wyatt Klynuk each added one assist for Chicago.
Brock McGinn (upper body), Jordan Martinook (lower body), Cedric Paquette (undisclosed), Jake Gardiner (healthy), and James Reimer (healthy) did not dress for the game.
The Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights were all idle on Thursday night.
Carolina's overtime loss earned them another point in the standings, which means Florida (75 pts, 2 games remaining) can no longer win the division. However, Tampa Bay (75 pts, 3 games remaining) can still catch Carolina.
However, The Canes 'magic number' is now two, meaning they only need to earn two points (or have Tampa lose one game in regulation) to secure the Division title.
As for the President's Trophy race, Carolina is now four points ahead of Vegas. The Golden Knights have four games remaining to Carolina's two.
Tampa Bay and Vegas both play tonight.
Carolina: The Hurricanes travel to Nashville to take on the Predators on Saturday night at 8:00 ET.
Chicago: The Blackhawks return home to face the Dallas Stars on Sunday at 7:00 ET.