Nash helps Hurricanes pound Blackhawks 5-0
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes showed off their impressive turnaround against the reigning Stanley Cup champions in their final game before the All-Star break.
Riley Nash scored two goals, Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist and the Hurricanes routed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0 on Tuesday night.
Carolina improved to 15-7-4 since a listless 5-1 home loss to New Jersey on Dec. 3. Nash said the Hurricanes haven't dwelled on that Devils loss, but it might have been a turning point.
''That game, we didn't play hard, we gave up too much, and we weren't strong on the puck,'' Nash said. ''So that was kind of a kick in the butt to say, `We better get in gear, or we're going to be on the outside looking in again.'''
Carolina (23-20-8) outshot Western Conference-leading Chicago 16-5 in the first period, taking a 3-0 lead and chasing goalie Corey Crawford.
Eddie Lack made 26 saves to improve to 4-1 in his career against the Blackhawks. Crawford, replaced by Scott Darling, made 13 stops.
Chicago (33-16-4) has lost three of four after winning 12 in a row. The Hurricanes improved to 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and completed a season sweep of the Blackhawks.
''It was pretty evident right from the beginning that we were in trouble tonight,'' Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ''We lost every single puck battle, every single race.''
Carolina got off to a fast start, and Chicago never recovered.
Skinner put Carolina in front with his 18th of the season at 2:21 of the first. After Crawford stopped Elias Lindholm's shot, Skinner and Jay McClement, originally credited with the goal, were in front of the net for the rebound.
Nash scored his third of the season on a deflection off a Chicago player with 6:55 left in the first. Just over two minutes later, John-Michael Liles took a pass from former Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg on a 2-on-1 and beat Crawford for his fifth.
Joakim Nordstrom, who along with Versteeg was traded by Chicago to Carolina in September, gave the Hurricanes a 4-0 lead in the second, and Nash scored about 90 seconds later on an assist from Skinner.
Carolina also won Dec. 27 at Chicago with Lack in goal. In that game, he was three seconds shy of a shutout.
''I was thinking to myself to battle the whole way in today and keep going,'' Lack said. ''The team played extremely well in front of me. We didn't give them a lot of Grade A scoring chances. We kept them on the outside the entire night.''
Carolina outshot the Blackhawks 40-26 and got goals from all four lines.
''When we get contributions throughout the lineup, we're a good team,'' coach Bill Peters said. ''We've been a good team here for a while now.''
NOTES: After the game, Carolina activated G Cam Ward from injured reserve. Ward had been sidelined by a concussion. F Phil Di Giuseppe and G Daniel Altshuller were reassigned to Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. ... The Hurricanes' next game is Feb. 3 at Calgary, and Chicago plays next at Colorado on Feb. 2. ... The Blackhawks announced a three-year contract extension for general manager Stan Bowman through the 2021 season. ... The announced attendance at PNC Arena was 14,588. ... Nordstrom has scored in the past three games, and Andrej Nestrasil has had assists in the past three. ... Carolina has killed off 57 of 65 power plays at home, including 4 of 4 Tuesday night.