The Chicago Blackhawks looked to finish their three-game road trip on a high note when they played the young and exciting Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday night.
Both teams were looking to get back into the win column, as the Hawks entered the contest having lost four straight, while the Red Wings had dropped their last two. A win for Detroit would be their 19th of the season, which would match their total for the pandemic-shortened 2020–21 season. The Hawks started Marc-Andre Fleury in net against Detroit’s Alex Nedeljkovic.
Led by Fleury, the Hawks survived several early possessions by the Wings, who had the Hawks pinned in their zone. Despite the slow start, the Hawks got on the board first at the 10:24 mark on a 3-on-2 break. Dominik Kubalik fed Philipp Kurashev, who entered the zone and passed to Seth Jones on the right wing, who found a wide open Kubalik on the doorstep for his 10th of the season on a nifty put-back.
The Blackhawks would take a 2–0 lead on a power play goal by Dylan Strome at 12:40 of the opening frame. With former Blackhawk Pius Suter in the penalty box for tripping, Alex DeBrincat found Strome in front, and Strome deflected the puck in for his fifth of the season.
Nearly two minutes later, Strome struck again with his second of the game. Patrick Kane entered the offensive zone and made a no-look turnaround pass to Strome, who sniped one top shelf from the left circle for his sixth to give Chicago a 3–0 advantage.
The Hawks were still not done breaking out of their offensive slump, as with 31.5 seconds remaining, the visitors took a commanding 4–0 lead when Sam Lafferty scored his first in a Blackhawks uniform on a feed from Strome, who had three points in the period. The Hawks outshot the Wings 16–8 in the opening frame.
Looking to shake things up, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill pulled Nedeljkovic before the start of the period for Calvin Pickard. The switch certainly sparked the team, as Robby Fabbri intercepted a careless pass by Calvin de Haan in the slot and skated around a Fleury poke check attempt and backhanded the puck into a wide-open net for his 12th of the season to cut the deficit to 4–1 at the 5:45 mark.
Just 56 seconds later, the Wings made it 4–2 when Tyler Bertuzzi scored his 20th of the season. Bertuzzi skated in on the rush and shot the puck from the right circle, which Fleury stopped, but left a juicy rebound that Bertuzzi outhustled both Hawks defensemen for and tapped it in.
With 13 seconds left in the period, Suter cut the Blackhawks lead to 4–3 with a nasty wrist shot from the slot past a screened Fleury for his 10th of the season. For the period, Detroit had a 13–11 advantage in shots on goal, however, the Blackhawks had a 27–21 edge in the category through two.
The Hawks ended the Wings’ scoring run when Strome completed the hat trick at 6:10 of the period. With the Hawks on the power play, Strome deflected a Jones shot from the point to give Chicago a 5–3 lead on Strome’s seventh of the season and the first hat trick of his NHL career.
While playing 4-on-4, the Hawks regained their three-goal cushion which began with a strong defensive play by Caleb Jones in his own zone when he forced a Bertuzzi turnover. The Hawks went the other way and Jonathan Toews found DeBrincat for his team-leading 25th of the season at 8:55 to give Chicago a 6–3 lead.
The Wings were not done as they cut it to 6–4 with a power play goal when a pair of Calder Trophy candidates connected. Rookie Lucas Raymond found fellow freshman Moritz Seider at the point, who blasted one past “The Flower” for this fourth of the season at 12:05 of the frame.
The Red Wings continued the comeback when Dylan Larkin scored his 20th of the season, unassisted, at 15:25 when he snapped a shot under the crossbar to cut the deficit to 6–5.
Twenty-six seconds later, Brandon Hagel picked off an outlet pass from former Blackhawk Nick Leddy in the offensive zone and wristed it under Pickard’s glove for his 11th of the season to extend Chicago’s lead to 7–5 at 16:13.
With the net empty, “The Cat” picked Larkin’s pocket near the Hawks’ blue line and skated in alone and scored his second of the game and 26th of the season to give the Blackhawks an 8–5 lead with 1:43 left to ice this one and end the Hawks’ losing skid. The Wings outshot the Hawks 12–11 for the period, but the Blackhawks finished with a 38–31 advantage for the game.
The good, the bad, the ugly
Strome: The player Blackhawks fans love to pick on had arguably the best game of his career with a hat trick plus an assist, as he pulled the Hawks out of their offensive slump.
De Haan: Clearly his days in a Hawks uniform are numbered and he had a lousy game defensively including an awful turnover which led to the Wings’ first goal which sparked their comeback. He also looked overmatched on the penalty kill against the younger and faster Red Wings.
The Hawks’ defense: And by defense, I mean everyone on the ice because it is inexcusable to take a 4–0 lead after one, chase their top goaltender, then get sloppy and let a young and inexperienced team back in the game. The Hawks were fortunate to come away with a win in regulation, as there were several occasions where the Hawks saw a multiple-goal lead fizzle to one, which put the Hawks on their heels. But give the Hawks credit for capitalizing on a few costly mistakes by the Wings, which found their way to the back of the net.
This was certainly one of the most entertaining Blackhawks games in recent memory. After a slow start, the Hawks broke out offensively in the first, but had to hang on several times as this young and talented Wings team showed why they are a team on the rise. The Blackhawks return home on Friday night to face the Colorado Avalanche at United Center. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST on NBCSCH with the radio call on WGN 720.