RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Antti Raanta made 23 saves and was a winner in his Carolina debut as the Hurricanes scored four goals in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the winless Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, adding to their best start in franchise history.
Tony DeAngelo, Jordan Staal, Derek Stepan, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov scored as Carolina improved to 7-0-0.
For Raanta, there were awkward feelings.
“For myself, it was a lot of emotions,” Raanta said. “It was my first game since my dad passed away this August. So it has been a rough couple of months.”
Using Raanta instead of Frederik Andersen marked the only lineup change for the Hurricanes in their first seven games. Andersen had his first shutout with Carolina on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.
Raanta joined the Hurricanes as a free agent during the offseason. Andersen was given the night off as Carolina finished its first set of back-to-back games.
Brandon Hagel, Adam Gaudette and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks (0-6-2). Kevin Lankinen stopped 29 shots.
DeAngelo and Vincent Trocheck each had two assists for the Hurricanes.
“The points are great,” DeAngelo said. “That’s something I’ve got to bring to the team.”
The Hurricanes scored four goals on 18 shots in the first period. Each of Carolina’s four lines scored, with 10 players making the scoresheet with either a goal or an assist in the first 19 minutes.
When Hagel and Gaudette scored less than 10 1/2 minutes into the game, the Blackhawks matched the total number of first-period goals surrendered by Carolina in its first six games combined.
“Obviously eight games in and we don’t have a win, it’s terrible,” Hagel said. “Early on obviously it’s like, ‘Let’s keep playing the same way. We’re going to get out of this, we’re going to get out of this.’ I think we’re still trying to do that. We’re still trying to stay positive.”
By the end, the Hurricanes overcame 10 penalties.
“Our skill took over a little bit at times and won us that game,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s not always going to be like that.”
A FAST FIRST
The four-goal first period marked the most goals for the Hurricanes in any period this season.
They hadn’t posted four goals in the opening period of any game in more than two years.
HE DID IT AGAIN
DeAngelo has scored a goal in the last two games, giving him goals in back-to-back games for just the third time in his 213-game NHL career.
In the third period, DeAngelo picked up the team’s first fighting major of the season after a scuffle with Reese Johnson.
“That was fun,” DeAngelo said. “The crowd was crazy at the end. That was cool, too.”
The so-called “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” – a goal, an assist and a fight – was the first for a Carolina player since Brandon Sutter in March 2012.
The Blackhawks were coming off their best defensive outing in a 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto on Wednesday night. But they’ve given up at least four goals in every other game.
“I thought we allowed them to get back in the game too easily,” Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We have to make them work for what they get, especially in the first.”
The Blackhawks’ worst period has been the second, as they’ve been outscored by a combined 13-3 in the middle period this season. Carolina had the only two second-period goals Friday.
Blackhawks: Visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Hurricanes: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday afternoon to conclude a four-game homestand.
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By Bob Sutton, The Associated Press