RECAP: Blackhawks Lose in Ward’s Homecoming 3-2

  

After an awful performance against Philadelphia on Saturday, the Blackhawks looked to rebound against the Carolina Hurricanes to complete their season series. Cam Ward returned to Carolina for the first time since signing in Chicago this summer. Ward got the starting nod and a nice tribute from his former club.

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton decided it was time for a change and shook the lines up.  This carried on into the overtime as well.  Marcus Kruger was ruled out early in the day on Monday and Brandon Saad was ruled out just before puck drop.  The starting lines were as follows:

Schmaltz – Toews – Kane

DeBrincat – Kampf – Kahun

Fortin – Anisimov – Hayden

Kunitz – Johnson – Martinsen

Keith – Seabrook

Gustafsson – Jokiharju

Davidson – Rutta

Ward

 

First Period:

The game began with the Blackhawks showing some life after the line shake up. The lines were playing fast and with pace, which is normally a positive, and paced play in the beginning of the period. Cam Ward looked inspired by the Carolina return and played solid early.

At the 9:07 mark the Blackhawks opened the scoring.  Patrick Kane took a pass from Nick Schmaltz into the offensive zone, who turned back and found an oncoming Henri Jokiharju at the blue line. While the pass found its way to Jokiharju’s blade, Jonathan Toews set up in front of Scott Darling with no Carolina defenders to be found. Jokiharju ripped a slap shot on net and Toews was able to tip in the shot past Scott Darling.

The goal was encouraging for Chicago because the defense got involved and there was net front presence, both keys to success on the ice.

Even though Chicago looked good early on, Carolina put together some strong chances late in the period. Fortunately for Colliton and the Blackhawks, Cam Ward showed well in the return to his home of a decade plus, and sent the visitors into intermission with the 1-0 lead. The lead would mark the first lead the Blackhawks have had since Colliton took over.

Second Period:

As opportunities traded back and forth between the Hurricanes and Blackhawks, both goaltenders were very solid early in the second. Cam Ward made some incredible saves to keep the visitors on top, while Darling help the Blackhawks lead to just 1-0.

At the 10:49 mark of the second, Chicago’s new second line (DeBrincat, Kampf, Kahun) had a strong rush into the Hurricanes end. David Kampf led the charge with a solid forecheck to force a turnover in the offensive zone. Dominik Kahun followed up on the loose puck and dropped the puck back for Alex DeBrincat, who ripped a quick wrist shot and beat Darling to give Chicago the 2-0 lead.

Just when all looked well for the Blackhawks, Brent Seabrook got called for a ill timed delay of game penalty and Carolina went on the power play. This was the first power play for either squad all game. Not more than a few seconds into the power play, after a Carolina face-off win, Teuvo Teravainen fired home a quick shot to cut Blackhawks lead to just one.

The play was bittersweet for Blackhawks fans everywhere and left them wondering what could have been if he was still in Chicago.

Shortly after the first successful power play, Carolina returned to the power play once again, after slashing call on Henri Jokiharju. Jokiharju was targeted heavily by Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour and looked overwhelmed on numerous occasions.

At the 15:13 mark, 2018 2nd overall pick Andrei Svechnikov drove the puck hard to the front of the net. Before getting to Cam Ward, he drew both Blackhawks defenders and found a wide open Michael Ferland on Ward’s doorstep. Ferland found the back of the net and tied the contest at two goals a piece. \After working so hard to get themselves a 2-0 lead, it took just 66 second for it all to fall apart.

Third Period:

Despite no scoring in the third, Carolina continued to make a huge push on Chicago’s defense. Although only registering eight shots (to Chicago’s seven) the Hurricanes generated several scoring opportunities.

That said, the Blackhawks did not lack good opportunities either. Most notably, the new top line of Schmaltz, Toews and Kane generated a few odd man rushes during the third period. However, every rush led by Nick Schmaltz seemed to end in an unneeded pass instead of a shot on net.

The third period ended in a 2-2 tie, which led to 3-vs-3 overtime for the extras point in the standings.  Carolina led in shots on goal through three periods 37-35.

Overtime:

After a few chances were traded early in overtime, Sebastian Aho was the trigger man on a 2-on-1 going in on Cam Ward. Ward was able to make a beautiful save and send the Blackhawks in the other direction. The next rush up ice for Carolina looked very similar to the first rush. Aho was once again the trigger man as the Hurricanes had an opportunity to win the game. David Kampf followed Justin Faulk as he crashed the net, giving Aho a 1-on-1 with Brent Seabrook. Seabrook hit the deck in attempt to prevent an Aho shot. However, Aho danced around Seabrook and fired the puck though Ward’s five-hole to send the Blackhawks away disappointed with a 3-2 loss.

The Good:

  • New Lines, New Energy: The team energy seemed to be much better with the new lines. The Kampf line was able to produce a goal and get Alex DeBrincat back on the score-sheet. He and Kahun seem to have developed chemistry without Toews, although they were very effective early in the season with the captain. The top line was also buzzing as well.
  • Cam Ward: Ward was very good in his return home to Carolina. Ward helped the Blackhawks salvage a point in a game where, quite honestly, they probably should not have gone to overtime after the collapse on the penalty kill in the second period. In the end, his solid performance was wasted after numerous missed opportunities from the young forwards for Chicago.

 

The Not So Good:

  • The Usual Suspects: Not to beat a dead horse, but Chicago’s special teams continue to underwhelm. Anytime Chicago goes on special teams, bad things happen. Lack of chances for themselves and too many quality chances for their opponents have allowed special teams to be their Achilles heel. The defense has also been bad. As an example, Jan Rutta made an errant pass to the middle of the ice, at his own blue line, that was picked off and gave Carolina a partial breakaway. Cam Ward made the save, but too many chances like that will not help Chicago win games as the season progresses.
  • Doing Too Much: There were too many wasted plays by the young forwards for Chicago. They were just trying to do too much. Nick Schmaltz on had many quality chances to shoot but passed for the “cute play” with a pass. John Hayden also had a similar opportunity. He had a chance to put a shot on net with teammates crashing the net, but instead, turned back and ultimately lost possession of the puck. Sometimes the simple play is the best play and the young Blackhawks forwards haven’t bought into that idea yet.
RECAP: Blackhawks Lose in Ward's Homecoming 3-2

Photoshop created by Jeff Osborn

The Blackhawks return to action on Wednesday, November 14th at home against the St. Louis Blues, and will remain at home for a contest with the Los Angeles Kings on Friday, November 16th. The games begin at 7:00pm CST and 7:30pm CST, respectively.

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    Ron Luce
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    After an awful performance against Philadelphia on Saturday, the Blackhawks looked to rebound against the Carolina Hurricanes to complete their season
    [To continue reading full article, click here: RECAP: Blackhawks Lose in Ward’s Homecoming 3-2]

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