Kochetkov Steals Show in Chicago

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The best part of hockey, the part that no other sport can match, the reason your heart pounds and then drops, is the end-to-end action. High-octane teams flying back and forth trading chances makes for an electrifying contest and better TV. If your team comes out on top in one of these contests, you’re elated, and if not, defeat will never feel more crushing.

Monday’s game felt more controlled, thanks to Carolina’s goaltender. The most chaotic element of the game was also a calming one, as was aptly described by Carolina’s team Twitter account.

Pyotr Kochetkov was the next man up tonight, but may become the man in future years if he continues his stellar play. With Frederik Andersen still out with an injury, Kochetkov added another win in his young NHL career, moving to 5-0 in his career while posting a shutout. The Blackhawks generated strong chances throughout the night, but Kochetkov was reliable when tested. Early on, he was instrumental in denying a power-play, first making a couple saves on the doorstep to keep the game scoreless and then clearing the zone himself.

Kochetkov continued to stifle the Blackhawks later in the game, sticking with Max Domi to sprawl out for an unconventional stop and denying Reese Johnson on a breakaway, the latter coming with Kochetkov being far more positionally conventional than the first. A nice glove stop on Sam Lafferty halfway through the third served as further validation of a high-quality outing. Speaking of stifling and positionally sound play, Carolina killed off all four Blackhawks power plays by controlling the neutral zone.

Kochetkov finds the puck as Taylor Raddysh and Jonathan Toews battle in the crease.

The Canes ensured two penalty killers were within a stick length of Patrick Kane as he tried to enter the zone at the blue line, which went a long way towards preventing the Blackhawks from being able to set up in the offensive zone.

Carolina got off to a strong start early, taking the lead on a Jordan Martinook deflection on a Brent Burns start. Burns has had a phenomenal start to the year. That assist was number 8, and number 9 came later in the period as Jordan Staal snuck a shot upstairs past former Cane Petr Mrazek.

With a two goal lead in hand, the Hurricanes turned in a group effort towards shutting down the Blackhawks defensively. Relieving pressure by clearing pucks quickly was clearly a focal point of the gameplan, as the Hurricanes made a point of dumping pucks in deep and cycling to continue to take valuable time off the clock.

Andrei Svechnikov took advantage of a turnover and put Carolina up 3-0. That score would hold, and Carolina moved to 10-5-1 with 21 points, good enough to maintain pace in the Metro division. With a game in hand on the Islanders, they’re in a solid position to move forward into second place.

Hand the first star to Pyotr Kochetkov, who was the main reason Carolina took two points tonight. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see which goalie assumes the backup role behind Frederik Andersen-Kochetkov or veteran Antti Raanta. Tonight, Kochetkov made a strong argument for more playing time. His impact is emphasized by this chart from moneypuck.com, which shows the stark contrast in volume and quality of scoring chances between the Blackhawks and Hurricanes. Carolina will continue their stretch against the Central Division Thursday night (after facing Colorado and Chicago, the Canes will take on Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Colorado for a second time).

NEXT GAME: November 17 vs Colorado

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