RECAP: Devils drop Blackhawks 4–2, Bedard leaves game after clean hit

  

Looking to salvage the final game of a five-game road trip, the Chicago Blackhawks visited Prudential Center on Friday night to face the red-hot New Jersey Devils, who have won four of their last five games, including a 6–3 victory on Wednesday night in Washington. The Hawks are coming off a 4–1 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night and was an opportunity for newly minted NHL All Star Connor Bedard to face another former first overall pick and 2024 All Star Jack Hughes. Arvid Soderblom started for the visitors while the Devils sent Vitek Vanecek between the pipes.

Soderblom was sharp early as the Devils peppered him with shots throughout the first period. The Blackhawks also played about half the period without Bedard, who took a clean hit from Brendan Smith to the chest and the follow through clipped him in the mouth. Bedard headed to the room and would not return for the rest of the game.

The Hawks got on the board first on the power play when Jason Dickinson snapped a wrist shot from the right circle under the arm of Vanecek. For Dickinson, it was his 13th goal of the season at 15:04 of the opening frame. A physical first period ended with the Hawks leading the Devils 1–0, but New Jersey outshot Chicago 13–11.

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In the second period, while the physical play continued, Alexander Holtz tied it with his ninth of the season. After the Hawks failed to clear the zone, Simon Nemec found Holtz alone in the right wing circle and he fired the puck into an open net to tie the game at 1–1 at 10:07.

With 1:36 left in the second and the Devils on their fifth power play, Boris Katchouk picked off a pass in the neutral zone, skated into the Devils’ zone and snapped a wrist shot past Vanecek to give Chicago a 2–1 lead, following it up with a boisterous celebration for the Devils’ fans. For Katchouk, it was his third goal of the season to give the Hawks a one goal lead after two periods.

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The Devils tied it at 2–2 when Nemec ripped a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Soderblom, who had lost his net. For the 19-year-old defenseman, the goal was his second of the season at 5:41 of the third.

Michael McLeod gave the Devils their first lead of the game at 3–2 with his 10th of the season. The Devils retrieved the puck from their zone and rushed up the ice. Curtis Lazar found McLeod driving toward the net and he deflected the pass into the net at 11:56 of the third.

Tyler Toffoli finished off the Hawks by scoring his 16th of the season into the empty net on a shot from center ice. The Hawks fell 4–2 in New Jersey to complete the road trip.

Analysis

Following the hit on Bedard that knocked him out of the game, the Blackhawks knew that scoring goals would become an even bigger challenge. Instead, they went toe to toe with the more talented Devils and the got chippy over the final 50 minutes. While the Hawks held the lead in the third period, they were not able to increase their lead. A bad goal given up by Soderblom followed by the go-ahead score by McLeod, who outworked Nikita Zaitsev, and that was all she wrote. In addition to Bedard, Nick Foligno was not on the Hawks’ bench for the third period due to an undisclosed injury following his fight with Smith in the second frame.

The Blackhawks return to United Center for a Sunday matinee against the Calgary Flames. Puck drop is at 2 p.m. CST on NBCSCH with the radio call on AM 720 WGN.

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