With Kris Versteeg returning from injury, one of the lineup decisions coach Joel Quenneville made was moving Brandon Saad down to the third line, in part to try and jumpstart that anemic line. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being skeptical of this move, especially since it meant a second line of Versteeg-Shaw-Kane. But boy, I was proven wrong tonight.
Chicago put up an all around solid effort against the Flyers, scoring two power play goals and getting reliable goaltending from Antti Raanta in a 4-0 victory. Raanta saved 32 shots to record his second career shutout.
The Blackhawks got on the board first with a great overall effort by the third line. Saad was stopped on his initial drive to the net, but the puck bounced to Brad Richards, whose second and third attempts were also stopped, before Saad was able to get position on Michael Del Zotto and tap in the puck for his first of the season. Richards also picked up his first point as a Blackhawk with an assist on the play:
The Hawks then went up 2-0 as they scored on their first power play of the night. Patrick Sharp’s shot went wide of the net, but bounced off the boards and ended up right on Patrick Kane’s stick, who punched in the goal.
The third line added another shortly after, as Saad had a great pass right to Bickell, who wristed it up past Mason for his first goal of the year, and the Blackhawks had a 3-0 lead after a little over two minutes of play.
The Blackhawks got their second power play goal of the night early in the third. Steve Mason committed to the right side of the net, leaving it wide open for Patrick Kane to tap in a Duncan Keith rebound for his second goal of the night, and putting the Hawks up 4-0.
After having to make just nine saves in the first period, Raanta faced more pressure in the second and came up big on quite a few saves. It may not have been the prettiest effort, but Raanta played well, especially on such short notice after finding out this morning he would get the start, and it was enough for his second career shutout.
This was the best 60-minute team effort we've seen from the Hawks so far this season. The Blackhawks are now 4-0-1 on the season and will look to continue rolling as they visit Nashville to face the Predators on Thursday night.