RECAP: Blackhawks defeat Red Wings 2–1 in preseason home opener

  

Although it was the third preseason tilt of the 2019–20 season for the Blackhawks, it was the first game at the United Center on Chicago’s west side. Not only were some new faces on display, but the brand new scoreboard was as well. 

In typical preseason fashion, more of the stars play in the home games than in the road games. Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat both played last night in Detroit, so they were off tonight. The lines were as follows:

NylanderToewsKane

Saad Kampf Kubalik

D. Sikura HighmoreSaarela

Hakkarainen – T. Sikura – Hagel

Keith Boqvist

MaattaSeabrook

GilbertHolm

Crawford

First period:

As fans settled into their seats and continually gazed at the brand new scoreboard, the Blackhawks trotted out the top line to start the game. Alexander Nylander won the lottery for the game, starting on the left wing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. 

Roughly five minutes into the contest, Toews had the best opportunity of the early minutes with a partial breakaway. Unfortunately, after a spectacular forehand backhand move, Toews could not finish and the game remained deadlocked at 0–0.

Later in the period, with about five minutes remaining, the Red Wings earned a power play after a Dennis Gilbert hooking penalty. However, the Blackhawks were able to escape without any damage from the Red Wings’ man advantage. 

But, another power play chance for the Red Wings spelled trouble for the Blackhawks. With just under two minutes remaining in the period, Detroit forward Filip Zadina placed a shot toward the net from the right slot. The shot never made it to the net. Instead, after a Seabrook block, the shot bounced perfectly onto the stick of Taro Hirose at the left face off dot. Hirose finished the play and scored the opening goal of the game for the visitors. 

The Red Wings took their 1–0 lead, as well as a 10–6 shots on goal advantage, into the first intermission at 1901 W. Madison St. 

Second period:

Right out the gate, the Red Wings generated the first good opportunity of the period. Joe Veleno found himself wide open on Crawford’s right side. Valeno placed a shot up near Crawford’s shoulder, but the Chicago netminder was able to make a solid save and keep the young forward off the scoresheet.

Roughly two minutes after the Veleno chance, the Blackhawks finally took advantage of a Red Wings mistake. After Tyler Sikura dumped the puck in deep, Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier mishandled the puck behind the net. Brandon Hagel was able to steal the puck below the goal line after an aggressive forecheck and jam the puck toward the net. The puck squeaked through Bernier, who was not completely set in his net, and tied the game at 1–1.

Just after the halfway point of the period, the Blackhawks struck again. A Toews outlet pass from the defensive zone found Nylander at the near blue line. Nylander gave the puck to Kane at the red line and Kane found some space in the offensive zone. The Red Wings were concentrating on the three Chicago forwards and completely forgot about Duncan Keith, who jumped into the play. Kane found Keith and the two time Norris Trophy winner found the back of the net with his shot to give the Blackhawks the 2–1 lead.

The Blackhawks entered intermission with the one goal lead over their Original Six foe.

Third period:

The best chance of the third period came at around the seven minute mark. Adam Boqvist danced around a defender in beautiful fashion—dragging the puck between his legs in the process—and placed a light shot toward Bernier’s glove side, but was unable to capitalize on the attempt.

The Blackhawks continued to pepper Bernier with shots all night long. Detroit had a few quality chances, but each time Crawford stood tall and made the big save. 

The Red Wings tried to tie the game late in the third with the extra attacker but could not find a way past Crawford. The Blackhawks sealed the 2–1 lead and captured their first preseason win at the United Center.

Quick hits:

  • The Crow’s nest: Corey Crawford looked really strong in his first preseason action. He is certainly still a question mark, given his recent injury history, but if he can sustain his top level of play for roughly 40 games, then he and Lehner will be the best goaltending duo in the league. After allowing only one goal on 24 shots, it is safe to say Crawford made an impact in his first preseason outing. 
  • The lottery spot: Alexander Nylander hit the jackpot on Wednesday, flanking Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on Chicago’s top line. The young Swede picked up this third point of the preseason on Duncan Keith’s goal and is continuing to make the front office’s decision very hard in about 10 days or so. He has played very well and will likely get a chance to prove himself on the opening day roster for the Blackhawks. Maybe a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered for the younger Nylander brother.

The Blackhawks remain in Chicago and await the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST and can be seen on NBCSCH+.

Center Ice Forums RECAP: Blackhawks defeat Red Wings 2–1 in preseason home opener

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