Along the boards: Blackhawks clip Ducks’ wings, win 4–2


After the embarrassment of Thursday night’s loss to the Nashville, the Blackhawks looked to regroup and rebound against the west’s worst team, the Anaheim Ducks. 

The good news entering today’s action was the return of the Panda himself, Robin Lehner. After a three game absence, Lehner returned looking to right the Hawks’ ship after the loss to the Preds. 

It seemed early on that the Hawks were still feeling the effects of Thursday’s game. Early in the first, the Ducks drew first blood. Just over three minutes into the period, Max Jones potted his fifth goal of the season to put the visitors up 1–0.

However, Chicago responded. Roughly five minutes after the Ducks took the lead, the Hawks had a two-on-one, led by Jonathan Toews. Toews elected to keep the puck and fired the puck past John Gibson to tie the game. 

The top line looked sensational for the Hawks early on. The fourth line also looked great. Those lines brought great energy and scoring chances, setting the tone heading into the first intermission. 

The Blackhawks came out with intensity to begin the second period. After head coach Jeremy Colliton switched the lines up, the new top unit of Patrick Kane, Toews and Dominik Kubalik dominated puck possession. Just over four minutes in, Toews set up Kane for a backhand chance, however, the puck trickled off of John Gibson and into an open area in front of the net. Kubalik crashed the net and put home the rebound to give the home team the 2–1 advantage. 

Kubalik has been sensational since joining Toews on the top line. His tally in this game was the 15th of the season for the rookie and his fourth in four straight games. Extending his sensational stretch, the Czech winger wasn’t done yet. Connor Murphy blasted a shot from the point that Kubalik hammered home on the rebound for his second goal of the game and 16th of the season.

After their strong second period, the Hawks would unfortunately be beaten on an excellent passing play for the Ducks. Max Comtois, Isac Lundestrom and Rickard Rakell teamed up for what was a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play and gave the Ducks hope, making the score 3–2. 

However, the Hawks struck back. After entering the offensive zone, Alex DeBrincat pulled up and found an oncoming Olli Maatta at the point. Without wasting any time, Maatta wired a slap shot to the top corner and beat Gibson to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead. 

Despite some chances for each team throughout the third period, neither team could capitalize. In the final minute and change of play, Dominik Kubalik nearly capitalized on a hat trick goal. Although he missed the hat trick, Kubalik was still the first star of the game as the Blackhawks ended the home stand with a 4–2 win over the Ducks. 

Along the boards

Robin Lehner was once again sensational in his return from injury. After Crawford manned the net for three games, the “Panda” returned to backstop the Hawks to a win against an awful Ducks team. Despite their record, the Ducks gave the Hawks a run and Lehner made numerous unbelievable saves to keep the home team out in front. A few days ago, Lehner was asked if he would take a discount to stay in Chicago. He said, in summary, that he has taken discounts his whole career and wants to be paid his worth. He added that he doesn’t want to be overpaid, but he certainly doesn’t want to be underpaid. There is one simple solution to this for the Blackhawks: give Lehner a contract, tell him to write the term and dollars, say “ok,” and have him sign it. If this organization wants any chance of competing in a few years, they need a good goaltender and Lehner fits the bill. #PayRobin.

The Czech rookie was also great tonight. It seems that Kubalik and Toews have found some chemistry together. Ever since Kubalik was promoted to play with Jonathan Toews, he has found a new scoring touch and been a consistent offensive weapon night in and night out. If Kubalik keeps this pace up, he will make a strong argument for the Calder trophy as rookie of the year. If he does not win the award, he should at least be a finalist. Here’s another guy who will need to be paid next summer as well. 

Holy Olli indeed, and how could you not love this tweet? It was refreshing seeing Olli Maatta jump into the play and score against the Ducks. Maatta’s presence will be critical for the rest of the season with injuries to Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook. Although the Hawks will likely miss the playoffs, Maatta is a young defenseman with a ton of experience and can be an asset to some of the younger guys such as Dennis Gilbert and Adam Boqvist. It seems like Maatta isn’t the only defenseman jumping in on offense, but it is especially refreshing when it’s guys like Maatta and Murphy, given their reputations as defense-first guys. 

The Blackhawks return to action on Tuesday night in Canada’s capital as they take on the Ottawa Senators. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST. 

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