The Chicago Blackhawks broke their second eight-game losing streak this season, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3.
First period surge
After an eleven-game stretch, the Blackhawks finally scored the first goal of the game. Even better, they capitalized off of that momentum by scoring the second goal of the game 2:36 later. Sure, Bryan Rust scored the first goal of his inevitable hat trick in the dying moments of the first frame, but this was still a very good period for the Hawks. They struggled in the first seven minutes to get the puck in the net, but once they put bodies in front of goalie Casey De Smith, they were rewarded.
Compete level evident
Breaking any losing streak is hard. The Penguins made sure that the Blackhawks fought tooth and nail to earn these two points. After a couple of defensive miscues, Rust tied the game for the visitors. A power play goal by Alex DeBrincat put the Blackhawks back in front, but another defensive breakdown in the Hawks’ defensive zone, coupled with an unfortunate stick by Brent Seabrook, gave Rust the second hat trick of his career. But, unlike previous games, the Hawks did not falter this time, netting three unanswered goals in the final frame of the game (two of the three are empty-netters) to seal the win.
The Blackhawks played a solid, 60-minute game. They had great puck possession numbers as well as great puck management. Marcus Kruger, Andreas Martinsen, Brandon Saad and Seabrook all potted in goals tonight. Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists. His empty-net goal in the third served as his 700th career NHL point. The fourth line was absolutely on fire tonight, combining for four points tonight. They were all over the ice tonight, creating chances and wreaking havoc in front of De Smith’s net. They even took some shifts against Sidney Crosby’s line, giving the so-called “best player in the world” all kinds of fits along the boards. Corey Crawford was, as per usual, amazing in goal for the home team. He stopped 40 out of 43 shots that he faced tonight. Carl Dahlstrom had an impressive season debut. He had the third highest ice time out of all skaters for the Hawks, and netted an assist in Martinsen’s first goal.
Kane the workhorse
Patrick Kane was on ice for 22:05, good for fourth out of all skaters for the Blackhawks. Jeremy Colliton was double, even triple, shifting Kaner all night. His primary assist on the DeBrincat goal extended his point streak to five games. Kane also showed how much he wanted to win this game tonight, racing across the ice to try and pot in an empty-net goal, sliding to the boards hard.
It’s easy to celebrate this win. Even Toews himself admitted that the win will give the boys something exciting to think about when they come back for practice in a few days. Losing is something that this organization is not used to, and that does something to the psyche of the players who take the ice. Is this game a portent of things to come for the Blackhawks? Not by a long shot. But can they build off of this win to maybe make a nice run? Yes they can. It’s always good to start home stands with a win, and they need all the good that they can get from tonight. The Blackhawks are back at it Friday night, when they face the Winnipeg Jets for the third time this season.