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10 observations: Hawks shut out by Canes for second time

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The Blackhawks were shut out by the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time this season after falling 3-0 at PNC Arena on Tuesday.

Here are 10 observations from the loss:

1. The Blackhawks had a 6 a.m. flight out of Chicago on Tuesday because of the three-day holiday break then went to PNC Arena for the morning skate. And they struggled to find their legs early on, although it probably didn't help that they faced the NHL's hottest team right out of the gates. The Hurricanes skated circles around them and the Blackhawks fell behind 2-0 in the first period.

2. The Hurricanes generated 12 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 in the first period alone and finished with 20 total, per Natural Stat Trick. That's the most the Blackhawks have allowed in a game this season. Their previous high was 16, which they had done twice. What's funny is the Blackhawks gave up only four high-danger chances at all strengths in their first meeting against Carolina on Nov. 14, which remains a season-best.

3. The Blackhawks had three consecutive power plays within a seven-minute span that started at the end of the first period, including 19 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and they did absolutely nothing with it. In fact, the Hurricanes generated more scoring chances (3) than Chicago (0) while shorthanded.

4. Petr Mrazek was under siege all night, and I'm not sure what else he could've done. He probably won't like that he gave up a rebound on the first goal, but the second goal against was an unfortunate break after Connor Murphy put the puck into his own net. Mrazek finished with 46 saves on 49 shots for a save percentage of .939. Both of those numbers are a new career-high.

5. The best trio of the game for Chicago was easily the third line of Andreas Athanasiou, Jason Dickinson and Sam Lafferty. When the three of them were on the ice together at even strength through two periods, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (14-5), shots on goal (8-4) and scoring chances (6-3).

6. Antti Raanta stopped all 24 shots he faced and improved to 5-1-1 in seven career starts against his former team. He has a goals-against average of 1.27, save percentage of .959 and two shutouts in those seven games. 

7. After recording a three-point night each on Friday before the break, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews combined for only three shots on goal. Toews' two shots came with 2:46 and 2:43 left in regulation. A very quiet game for them.

8. Jordan Staal has been one of the top faceoff players of the last decade, but he got dominated at the dot in this game. He won only four of 18 draws for a win percentage of 22.2. Max Domi led the way for the Blackhawks with 11 wins and five losses for a win percentage of 68.8.

9. The Hurricanes are now 13-0-2 over their last 15 games. They are a relentless forechecking team and might be the deepest club in the league, with four lines that come at you in waves and three defense pairings that don't give up much. I just don't know if they have the horses to win the Stanley Cup. As one Eastern Conference front office member recently told me: "They're not a team that truly scares you like others in the league."

10. Frederik Andersen is close to returning, which means the Hurricanes will have an interesting dilemma on their hands. They recalled Pyotr Kochetkov to be the backup with Andersen out, but he's 10-1-4 with a 1.94 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and three shutouts in 15 appearances and just earned a four-year extension at a $2 million cap hit. I think the answer might be to trade Raanta. Or, carry three goaltenders for the rest of the season, which isn't ideal but might be necessary because Andersen and Raanta are both injury prone.

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