Southeast Division-leading Carolina scored three times in a four-minute span in the opening period and goalie Cam Ward made 25 saves as the Hurricanes blanked the Hawks 3-0 Wednesday at the United Center.
The visitors capitalized on two power play goals for their 5th straight victory and their 7th in their last eight starts to maintain a 7 point lead over 2nd place Washington while Chicago dropped their 4th in a row (0-3-1).
With Adam Burish off for slashing, the Hurricanes struck at the nine-minute mark with Erik Cole firing a 15-footer through the pads of rookie goalie Corey Crawford, who was making his 2nd straight start. Cole tallied his 20th of the campaign as he was left alone in the slot.
Less than two minutes later on another power play, Eric Staal, who assisted on the first goal, blasted a 35-footer and Matt Cullen picked up the rebound to wrist a short shot through traffic to make it 2-0 for his 13th goal.
Staal wound up the scoring at 12:45 with his team high 34th goal on a partial breakaway. He took a pass from Joe Corvo and swept around the Hawk defense to slip the puck past Crawford.
The Hawks' best scoring chances in the period came on a 20-foot drive by Dave Bolland at the three minute mark and at the 16 minute mark by Patrick Kane. Andrew Ladd, who came to the Hawks in a trade deadline deal with Carolina for Tuomo Ruutu, couldn't get his stick down on Kane's rebound in the goal crease.
In the 2nd period, Kane had a partial breakaway at the 12 minute mark, but his shot missed the near corner of the net and then former Hurricane Craig Adams beat Ward but his shot rattled off the post.
Kane had another great chance at the 18 minute mark, but was slashed by Matt Cullen before he could get off a good shot.
In the final period, Bolland ripped another shot off the post at the eight minute mark and Ward came up with a point blank stop on Kane late in the frame.
Carolina was 2-5 on the power play while the Hawks were 0-4 with the visitors outshooting Chicago 32-25.
It was Ward's 4th shutout of the season and the 6th of his career.
Hawks coach Denis Savard felt that his young players made a few costly mistakes and Carolina capitalized on them. Also, he said that Crawford played well and that Kane and Bolland were his best forwards. He made no excuses for the fact it was his team's fourth game in five days while Carolina had been resting since Saturday.
The Hawks head to Columbus Friday to face the Blue Jackets and then return to the United Center Sunday afternoon to host the Calgary Flames (2 pm).
AP Notes: Carolina D Glen Wesley returned after missing a game with a foot injury. ... Six Hurricanes sat out with injuries: LW Wade Brookbank, LW Ray Whitney, C Rod Brind'Amour, C Chad LaRose, RW Justin Williams and D David Tanabe. ... Including Khabibulin, five injured Chicago regulars missed the game: LW Martin Havlat, D Brent Sopel, C Yanic Perreault and LW Ben Eager. ... Chicago D James Wisnieswki served a one-game NHL suspension for cross-checking Detroit's Mikael Samuelsson on Tuesday. ... Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Gale Sayers dropped the ceremonial first puck.
Head coach Peter Laviolette: "They still played hard. In the first period, fortunately, we had a couple power plays and we cashed in on them. Three goals, a big goal by [Eric] Staal, and we won 3-0. I don't think that they played like they were tired or like they played last night. I thought they played with a lot of urgency."
Left wing Tuomo Ruutu: "It's a little weird, but I play for the Carolina Hurricanes. Whatever's on the sweater you play for them. It was nice to come back though.
"Obviously we went through some stuff [about the Blackhawks]. They probably went through the same with Andrew Ladd."