Hot on a two-game winning streak, the Chicago Blackhawks took the Ice in Colorado last night against the Avalanche. The odds of a third straight win were perhaps not high, as Chicago had played in a tough contest versus Dallas the night before in Texas.
The Blackhawks lines and pairings:
Brandon Saad–Jonathan Toews–Dominik Kahun
Dylan Strome–Artem Anisimov–Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat–David Kampf–Dylan Sikura
John Hayden–Luke Johnson–Brendan Perlini
Duncan Keith–Erik Gustafsson
Gustav Forsling–Brent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom–Connor Murphy
Not surprising in a back-to-back, new backup netminder (and #rinklegend) Colin Delia got his first NHL start this year for Chicago versus Philipp Grubauer for the Avs.
Continuing a recent theme, the Hawks got the game’s first goal at 8:07. After killing off a too many men call, Dominik Kahun, who served the penalty, gathered a puck coming out of the box, generating a quick break to the net, and found a trailing Alex DeBrincat who beat Grubauer for his 16th goal of the season. 1-0 Chicago.
Both teams took two penalties a piece in the period, and the Hawks ended the frame on the man advantage. Chicago continued to struggle to enter the zone and set up their offense on the power play. Shots were 14-8 Colorado with Delia making several strong saves—looking sharp and in control throughout the period—one in particular on a point blank chance by Gabriel Landeskog..
The Avs killed off the remainder of the penalty to start the second, and then applied some consistent pressure on the Hawks, resulting in a JT Compher goal at 2:58. 1-1.
Sustained offensive zone time for Colorado led to all too familiar defensive breakdowns in the Hawk zone, setting up numerous Colorado chances, including one shot that had Delia beat only to ring off the post.
It wasn’t long before NBCSN Chicago announcers Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk stated what most viewers had to be thinking: the Hawks looked like a team that played the previous night in another city. Tired and chasing the play. But Delia continued to shine and keep the hawks in the game.
Colorado ended the period on a power play, which had 7 seconds left going into intermission. Shots for the period were 11-7, totaling 25-16 for the first two periods.
Early on, a quick Patrick Kane shot from near the blueline leaked through Grubauer’s pads and was banged home by Artem Anisimov, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead at 1:18.
The Avalanche hit their third post of the night at 5:36, although the Hawks had a couple of quality chances themselves, including one hit crossbar that bounced down to the goal line and nearly went over.
Colorado pulled Grubauer at the end but could not solve Delia, giving Chicago the 2-1 win, their third in a row.
Delia was outstanding, giving the Hawks another goalie win (and his first NHL win) after a sterling performance by Cam Ward Thursday night in Dallas.
Hawk defensive zone coverage, while not great overall (the team gave up 36 shots), was nonetheless better than its season long standard.
As Head Coach Jeremy Colliton said in his postgame remarks, Chicago probably deserved to win some other games this season more than this one. Although pointed out as a positive above—relative to horrible overall play this season—the defense was not great at times.
Nothing really, it was an unlikely road win against a good team. And perhaps reflective of overall improvement in a psychologically fragile Hawks team.