The Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks came into the game as two of the most overachieving teams of this 2018-2019 season. Both are in the top half of the Western Conference though the Blackhawks are on a two game losing skid. To make matters worse, Patrick Kane was scratched earlier in the day due to illness.
Luke Johnson had a good look for the Blackhawks 1:50 into the game from the right circle but it was sucked up easily by Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Shortly thereafter the Blackhawks headed to the power play as the result of a Antoine Roussel high-sticking penalty. It was more of the same for the Blackhawks power play unit as they registered 0 shots on goal during the two minutes.
After some back and forth play for a few minutes Saad was able to split two Canucks defenders with his speed and power one through Markstrom to make it 1-0 Blackhawks. He was assisted by Kunitz and Anisimov.
Just nine seconds later Brent Seabrook was called for interference. After an early scoring chance the Blackhawks were able to kill the penalty. As both teams returned to full strength there wasn’t any notable action until the Hayden-Kruger-Kampf line had a great shift which saw a few shots, significant time in the offensive zone but not a goal.
An errant pass by Nick Schmaltz led to an unassisted breakaway goal for Jake Virtanen at 15:33 in the period to make it a 1-1 game. With a couple minutes left in the first Kunitz made his second nice pass of the night to Anisimov whose backhand was stopped by Markstrom to keep the game tied at 1.
The Blackhawks headed to the power play with :34 left but recorded no shots on goal before the period ended.
As the Blackhawks began the second on the power play- Toews was able to capitalize and put the team up 2-1 with a wicked wrist-shot. It was career goal number 299 for The Captain and moved him into sixth all-time for the Blackhawks moving past Dennis Hull. He was assisted by Johnson and Erik Gustafsson but it should be noted that Saad did a great job of screening the goalie.
Seabrook took his second penalty of the game at the 11:39 mark as he tripped Bo Horvat who was starting to take the edge on him heading to the goal. While on the penalty kill Saad was able to breakaway but hit the crossbar on his snapshot. It looked like he put the rebound in for a goal but it was deemed he put it in with a kicking motion. That was the correct call and the Blackhawks went on to kill the penalty.
Virtanen scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at 2 with 7:36 left in the second. He beat Crawford high blocker side with a snipe after Brandon Davidson hesitated slightly to give him a clear shooting lane.
The remainder of the period went on with both teams having some lower percentage chances but ultimately no goals.
Saad opened the period with another great power move to the net but couldn’t finish with the backhand. Shortly after Gustafsson was called for hooking in the defensive zone. The Canucks controlled the play for the next two minutes with a few good chances but the Blackhawks were still able to kill the penalty.
In what looked like an incidental play Brandon Manning collided with Troy Strecher and looked to hit him in the head. There was no penalty called but Strecher did leave the game.
With 10:37 left in the game Brendan Gaunce put the Canucks up 3-2 with their first lead of the game. In an unfortunate play of events Toews won a board battle and tried to pass it to John Hayden who had no stick because he gave his to Henri Jokiharju who lost his. Toews’ pass was right on the tape of Gaunce who beat Crawford high glove side.
The Canucks went up 4-2 with 3:27 left in the game when a Roussel pass was tipped by Manning into his own goal. A minute later the Blackhawks pulled Crawford for the empty net but were unable to capitalize as the game ended 4-2.
- Saad looked like the man-child again. 1G 5 SOG
- Kunitz had a few nice passes and one that led to a goal.
Areas For Improvement
- Nick Schmaltz is still looking lost and a bad pass of his led to a breakaway goal.
- DeBrincat was almost invisible in this game.
- Scoring is still only coming from top two lines.
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