In their second game of the new year, the Chicago Blackhawks looked to rebound after their ghastly performance against the Nashville Predators on New Year’s Day. Despite Marc-Andre Fleury coming out of the COVID-19 protocol, the team went with the rookie Arvid Soderblom in net. Soderblom had nine starts at Rockford before being added to the taxi squad. He made his NHL debut in relief of Collin Delia in the aforementioned contest against Nashville.
In their last meeting, the Calgary Flames put the Blackhawks away with a three-goal third period back in November. In this contest, it was the second period for the Flames that crushed the Blackhawks.
With the Blackhawks playing their first game of the new year on Saturday, they had a distinct advantage over the rusty Flames, who had not played since last Thursday due to COVID-19 postponements, while the Hawks were playing their second game since Dec. 18.
At the the midway point of the period, Henrik Borgstrom won a board battle against two Flames defenders and got the puck to Patrick Kane. Kane then found Alex DeBrincat for a quick one-timer goal from the net front. It was DeBrincat’s 18th goal of the season and first goal of the new year.
After pressuring the Hawks early, Calgary capitalized on a Blackhawks mistake. Matthew Tkachuk redirected a pass from Johnny Gaudreau to the tie game at 1–1. That was the only blemish on Soderblom in the first period. The 22-year-old made five saves on the six shots on goal in the period.
In the second period, the Blackhawks took up residency in the penalty box after committing three penalties. The first came from DeBrincat, who was sent to the box for a phantom hooking penalty against Dillon Dube. The Flames capitalized on the power play, getting their second goal of the game from Elias Lindholm. Lindholm fired a shot from the point that went past Soderblom, who was screened by Tkachuk on the goal. Less than minute later, Philipp Kurashev continued the parade to the box and was called for hooking on Blake Coleman. On the Kurashev penalty, the Blackhawks were able to hold the Flames scoreless.
Later in the period, Josiah Slavin flipped the puck over the boards on the opposite side of the ice for a delay of game penalty. This was the third penalty of the period charged to the Blackhawks, and once again, the penalty kill unit was able to hold the Flames scoreless. Despite committing three penalties, it was the power play that failed the Blackhawks the most in the second period.
With a little more than three minutes to go in the period, the Blackhawks finally got a power play of their own, as former Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov tripped Kurashev on a strong move to the net. Despite being on the power play, the Hawks gave up two shorthanded rushes. Soderblom fought off the first attempt with a great save. Unfortunately, he was not able to stave off the second rush, as Trevor Lewis was able to beat Soderblom with a backhanded shot. Both Kane and Erik Gustafsson were out of position on the goal.
The second period ended with the Blackhawks being down 3–1.
In the third period, the Blackhawks kept committing penalties. Kirby Dach turned the puck over in the neutral zone that lead to a Flames breakaway chance for Dube. Dube was held by Dach on the play, resulting in a penalty shot. Dube’s shot was denied by the Soderblom, as he recorded one of his 11 saves in the period.
Soderblom kept the Blackhawks in the game, making 10 more saves before being pulled for an extra attacker. With Soderblom on the bench, the Flames add their fourth goal of the game. Soderblom was then brought back in the game and surrendered a goal to Gaudreau on 2-on-1 break. The final score was Calgary 5, Chicago 1.
In spite of the loss, Soderblom was impressive in his first NHL start, making 37 of 41 save attempts for a .902 save percentage. With the Blackhawks lacking future goalie potential in their organization, if Soderblom continues his solid play, he could eyed a potential tandem partner or future starter with the Blackhawks.
In addition to the good play from Soderblom, Borgstrom had his best game of the season. He was winning board battles and was very noticeable on the ice.
Gustafsson, who had been playing well as of late, was bad against the Flames. The last two games, his pairing has been chasing the puck way too much and he was badly outplayed on the Lewis shorthanded goal.
Interim Head Coach Derek King said three or four guys were not ready to play, which was an improvement from half the team not being ready to play against Nashville on Saturday.
The Blackhawks’ next game is against Colorado on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.