Raleigh, NC -- Sebastian Aho had a hat trick, as the Carolina Hurricanes (35-10-7, 77pts) defeated the Chicago Blackhawks (22-24-6, 50pts) 5-2 on Monday night.
Vincent Trocheck had two points; Martin Necas and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal.
Alex DeBrincat and Ian Mitchell scored for Chicago.
Asked to comment on Sebastian Aho's hat-trick, Martin Necas kept it simple.
"What can I say? You guys see it on the ice; he's a great player."
Few observers would disagree.
Aho took over a game that was already trending in the Canes' favor and scored the team's final three goals--leading the Canes to their eleventh-straight game with at least a point.
"We were in the zone," Aho said as the crowd chanted his name in the postgame bench interview. "I felt like all four lines were really sharp in the first...so the preparation was good."
Dougie Hamilton opened the scoring when he threw a centering pass toward the net. The puck deflected off of Malcolm Subban's stick and over the goal line.
Martin Necas doubled the Canes lead at 13:34 of the 1st period. The 22-year-old Czech fired a wrister from near the blue line that beat Subban. It was his 12th goal of the year but his first since April 10th--an 11 game drought.
"I mean, I sucked for the last couple of games," Necas said. "It's good to get myself going again...I tried to get myself involved and make some plays."
Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour praised Necas' brutal honesty.
"I think he had a good word for it," Brind'Amour said. "You have to be able to self-evaluate your game. You don't need the coaches telling you how you played; you should know."
In the 2nd period, the Sebastian Aho show began.
Aho started by finishing off a two-on-one with Andrei Svechnikov, who provided an excellent pass--extending his own assist streak to four games.
Aho's second goal came on the powerplay via a re-direction of a Dougie Hamilton shot.
The third came after Chicago had pulled their goaltender. Aho beat Patrick Kane to a loose puck, fended off the future-Hall-of-Famer, and deposited the puck for his 24th goal of the year and the fourth hat-trick of his career.
Aho now moves into a tie for third place in terms of hat-tricks in Hurricanes history with Jeff Skinner. Eric Staal (13) and Erik Cole (5) remain ahead of Aho.
Alex Nedeljkovic (15-4-3, .932 SV%, 1.89 GAA) made 15 saves on 17 shots faced. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 15 of his last 19 starts dating back to 2/20.
Jesper Fast, Warren Foegele, Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Jake Bean, Dougie Hamilton, and Brady Skjei each recorded one assist for the Canes.
Dominik Kubalik had two assists for Chicago; Dylan Strome added one assist.
Brock McGinn (upper body), Jordan Martinook (lower body), Cedric Paquette (undisclosed), Jake Gardiner (healthy), and James Reimer (healthy) did not dress for the game.
Malcolm Subban (6-7-1, .905 SV%, 3.03 GAA) was pulled in the 2nd period and took the loss. He gave up four goals on 15 shots.
Collin Delia (0-2-0, .863 SV%, 5.00 GAA) did well in relief of Subban. He made 19 saves on 19 shots faced.
The Florida Panthers defeated the Dallas Stars 5-4 in overtime. The win gives Florida 75 points--two points behind Carolina. Tampa Bay (73 pts) trails Carolina by four points.
Vegas lost to Minnesota 6-5 in regulation, keeping Vegas at 74 points, with one game-in-hand on Carolina.
With the Vegas loss, the Canes now control their own destiny. If they win their four remaining games, they will claim the President's Trophy.
Carolina: The Hurricanes take on the Chicago Blackhawks again on Tuesday night at 7:00 ET.