The Chicago Blackhawks took advantage of two struggling teams to collect six out of eight possible points last week. Chicago began the week in Columbus, defeating the Blue Jackets twice before returning home to go 1–1 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Tuesday, Feb. 23: Kane records four points, DeBrincat rises to occasion in shootout victory
After gaining a 2–1 lead and a significant shot advantage over the Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks could not hold a lead against Columbus for the remainder of the game. Brandon Hagel scored his first NHL goal in the second period, only for Patrik Laine to tie it a minute later. Dominik Kubalik and Adam Boqvist gave Chicago a 5–3 lead, but Oliver Bjorkstrand and the Blue Jackets stormed back to tie the game and send it to overtime.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 24, 2021
Despite letting in a few stinkers during regulation, Kevin Lankinen stood on his head in overtime and turned aside all five shots the Blue Jackets put on net. The rookie netminder made two incredible saves on Bjorkstrand and Jack Roslovic to drag the Blackhawks to the shootout.
Thanks to Alex DeBrincat’s slick shootout goal and Lankinen turning aside all three shooters for Columbus, the Chicago Blackhawks took both points in a wild 6–5 victory.
Thursday, Feb. 25: Subban gets first shutout of the season
The Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets opted to not pursue chaos in this matchup. Columbus had the better chances in the first period, outshooting Chicago 8–3 and hitting two posts. However, the Blackhawks turned it on in the middle frame, putting 12 shots on net while the Blue Jackets only mustered up three.
Pucks finally made it past Joonas Korpisalo in the third period, as Patrick Kane picked up his 399th career goal off a poor line change by Columbus. Carl Soderberg picked up his fourth of the season with an empty-net goal to help secure the 2–0 win over the Blue Jackets. Malcolm Subban stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 26, 2021
Saturday, Feb. 27: Chances galore, but rough goaltending leads to loss
Chicago opted to have Malcolm Subban in net for the first game of the weekend series against the Detroit Red Wings. Despite posting a shutout less than 48 hours before, Subban struggled throughout the game. A late read by the goaltender allowed Bobby Ryan to give Detroit a 1–0 lead in the first period. Although DeBrincat tied the game in the second period, Chicago surrendered two goals to go down 3–1 heading into the third period.
The Blackhawks also had too many defensive breakdowns at 5-on-5 play and allowed Detroit to score on the power play for the first time in the Red Wings’ last 41 opportunities. A breakaway and scrambling led to Evgeny Svechnikov’s first goal of the season. Slow feet by Connor Murphy and Nikita Zadorov not committing to his man gave the Red Wings a prime scoring opportunity, and Subban probably wishes he had that Frans Nielsen shot back.
Even though Chicago out-chanced Detroit 49–19 in all situations, goals from Mattias Janmark and Kubalik in the third period were not enough to overcome the goal deficit. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 5–3.
Sunday, Feb. 28: Kane scores 400th goal, offense fires on all cylinders
The weekend series concluded with a complete role reversal for both teams. This time, the Detroit Red Wings had more scoring chances than the Blackhawks, but Chicago capitalized on the prime opportunities they did have. In the first period, Nikita Zadorov’s wicked wrist shot gave the home team a 1–0 lead and Ryan Carpenter extended it to 2–0 six minutes later. A beautiful tip-in goal from Sam Gagner brought the Red Wings within one at 2–1 to end the frame.
Though no goals were scored in the second, the Blackhawks turned it on in the third. Pius Suter scored his seventh of the season 1:32 into the final 20 minutes and Carpenter picked up his second of the night on the power play thanks to some great puck movement.
And finally, after all of the looks and scoring chances, Patrick Kane netted the 400th goal of his career with great patience and a fantastic wrist shot.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 1, 2021
The goal scoring did not cease. Svechnikov picked up his second of the season and second of the game for Detroit. Kubalik and DeBrincat rounded out the scoring for the Blackhawks. Lankinen stood tall in net for Chicago, stopping 44 of 46 shots and helping his team earn a 7–2 victory to end the week.
More schedule changes
The NHL announced additional schedule changes around the league on Feb. 23. The following games have been moved:
- Chicago at Nashville: Sunday, April 4 to Monday, April 19
- Chicago at Carolina: Saturday, Feb. 20 to Thursday, May 6
- Chicago vs. Dallas: Thursday, May 6 to Sunday, May 9
- Chicago vs. Dallas: Saturday, May 8 to Monday, May 10
The Blackhawks’ regular season has now been extended by two days due to the new changes. Additionally, Chicago’s game in Tampa Bay on March 20 is now starting at 3 p.m. CST instead of 6 p.m. CST.
Recalls and re-assignments
The Blackhawks made some changes to their NHL roster and taxi squad right before the homestand. Forwards Brad Morrison and Mikael Hakkarainen and goaltender Matt Tomkins were recalled from the Rockford IceHogs to the taxi squad. In a corresponding move, forward Reese Johnson and defensemen Nicolas Beaudin and Wyatt Kalynuk were sent down to Rockford.
One has to wonder why Beaudin got the re-assignment instead of Adam Boqvist considering the latter just battled COVID-19 and did not play for over two weeks. Why not ease Boqvist back into play and let Beaudin get some more time in the NHL lineup?
Additionally, goaltender Collin Delia was re-assigned to Rockford on a conditioning assignment. Delia has not played a game since Jan. 17 and allowed 10 goals against in two starts. It is clear for now that the Blackhawks are rolling with Lankinen and Subban. But with the inconsistency of Subban’s game, could Delia be the 1B goalie for Chicago in the future?
This week, the Blackhawks finish off their current homestand with two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning before heading down to the Sunshine State to battle the Lightning in their home rink on Sunday.