The Blackhawks hosted a matinée game against their former Norris/Smythe division nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings. This was the first time the Blackhawks have faced the Wings this season. Chicago came in winning their last six games, and the Red Wings have been at (or near) the bottom of the NHL standings for most of the season. Another potentially winnable game for the Blackhawks.
In goal, the Blackhawks had veteran Cam Ward, while David Kampf remained out of the lineup with a foot injury and Gustav Forsling took the afternoon off. The Red Wings started veteran backup Jonathan Bernier in goal.
This was your Blackhawks starting lineup:
Drake Caggiula – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Strome – Dominik Kahun
Brandon Saad – Artem Anisimov – Brendan Perlini
Chris Kunitz – Marcus Kruger – John Hayden
The Blackhawks and Wings traded chances early on but Wings were only able to get one puck to the net, while the Blackhawks already had five shots before they took their first power play attempt, three and a half minutes into the game.
The power play ended with little pressure and this battle of the bottom feeders trudged on.
Just as the clock hit the 9:00 mark, the trio of Strome/DeBrincat/Kahun weaved over the Wings’ blue line with an odd man break. Kahun was the trigger man but had his initial shot blocked by Danny DeKeyser. Luckily for Kahun, the puck ended right back on his stick and he was able to beat Bernier, who was leaning the wrong way.
With 4:30 remaining in the first period, Brandon Saad hounded Dennis Cholowski at the Detroit blue line and was able to pick his pocket. Saad took the puck hard to the net but Bernier held the Blackhawks lead to one goal.
The Blackhawks struck once again, though, with two minutes remaining in the first period. Dominik Kahun turned on the afterburners and blazed around the Wings defense. He spotted Dylan Strome driving hard to the net and was able to feed the big center for a 2-0 Blackhawks lead.
Shots on net favored Chicago 18-16.
Once again, the teams traded chances for the opening five minutes of the second period but neither was able to add a goal on the scoreboard. Shortly after the five-minute mark, Brendan Perlini penalty gave the Wings their first power play opportunity, against the Blackhawks last ranked penalty kill, but the Wings were not able to convert.
With five minutes remaining in the second period, Patrick Kane got a little careless in his own end with the puck and Danny Dekeyser stripped the Hawks wing. Christoffer Ehn picked up a loose puck and raced towards Cam Ward. Ehn beat the Blackhawks goaltender over the glove with a nice snap shot, to cut the Blackhawks lead to one goal.
The Red Wings finished the period with a lot of pressure in the Blackhawks end, but time ran out before the they could tie the game. The visitors had a big period as far as shots on net go, taking a 31-29 lead with a 15-11 second.
As the third period began, the Blackhawks came back out with some jump in their step but that jump also led to some loose defense in their own end.
At the eight-minute mark of the third period, a nice defensive play by Duncan Keith at the Blackhawks blue line turned into Dominik Kahun’s second goal and third point of the game. Keith was able to tap the puck up to DeBrincat, who led the rush and chipped it up to Strome. Strome quickly threw the puck to Kahun and the Blackhawks rookie forward beat Bernier with a nice backhand shot.
The defensive sloppiness in the Blackhawks end led to a Gustav Nyqvist goal, with Justin Abdelkader in Cam Ward’s lap, with under five minutes remaining in regulation. That would not last long, though.
Less than a minute after the Nyqvist goal, Patrick Kane snuck behind the Detroit defense and grabbed the Blackhawks back a two-goal lead. Jonathan Toews found Kane from his own end and Kane undressed Bernier. That would be all the Blackhawks needed to win, even though Toews added an empty net goal later.
As the final horn sounded, the Blackhawks won their seventh in a row with a 5-2 win.
- Despite a miscue here or there, Cam Ward had an excellent game. I questioned Colliton not playing Delia, but his decision certainly worked out.
- I was really impressed with the DeBrincat/Strome/Kahun line. Strome makes that line go, and the wings have been very dangerous as of late. The Blackhawks look like they have a top 6 locked in, now they need to work on that defense, bottom 6, and goalie situation for the long run.
- Dahlstrom and Koekkoek haven’t looked completely overwhelmed out on the ice despite their relative NHL inexperience. It’s nice to see some more physical players on the back-end with Murphy. It’s no coincidence that the Blackhawks have shown life with some of the “offensive” defensemen replaced by some physical guys.
- It’s pretty shocking that the Blackhawks were able to put up five goals without a single power play goal.
- They won a game against a team they should have, facing a goalie that was barely average.
- The may have won, but the Blackhawks are still giving up way too many shots to terrible teams. 45 shots against is unacceptable. Detroit also led in high danger scoring chances 18-15. This will eventually be their downfall in this silly playoff nonsense.
- Not only did Detroit dominate in shots on net, but their possession number were dominating, as well, at around 57-58%. This was an instance of the Blackhawks capitalizing on most of their chances and the Wings laying an egg. These games happen. Unfortunately, you don’t win playoff games that way.