After a nice lengthy period of time in which the Chicago Blackhawks flashed some of the most dominant play we've seen from them all season, their Tuesday night tilt against the New Jersey Devils brought about a different range of emotions. These emotions may have ranged from the traditional *fart noise* in the first period, followed by "oh hey, tied." in the second, before "they're going to lose to these guys?", succeeded by "hey, at least they got a point", before culminating in the elation of "Hawks win!".
Regardless of how much 'meh' may have been sprinkled in between all of those emotions, both on the part of the road team and its fans, it was nice for the Blackhawks to grab two points against a very lackluster New Jersey club, even if it did require a shootout for them to do so. The Hawks never actually held a lead in regulation, with their only go-ahead "goal" being the shootout goal scored by Patrick Kane to seal the victory.
This was yet another game in which the Hawks dominated the shot chart and virtually ran the table in the Corsi department, and yet ran into a rookie goaltender far outplaying what he is capable of. The domination was somewhat subtle, but the Blackhawks finished the game with a Corsi% just over 61 percent, carrying much of the play in that regard. Keith Kinkaid played very well for New Jersey, stopping 31 of 33 shots on the night. It was the shootout that ultimately proved to be his downfall, however.
The Hawks trailed in the first period of this one off of a Jordin Tootoo goal about 3/4 of the way into the first period. They were unable to get on the board despite some strong chances, until Bryan Bickell evened things up with a trademark wrister in the second period. A fluky goal on the part of Stephen Gionta put the Devils up and had many thinking they might steal this one from the red hot Blackhawks.
However, fate (also known as Duncan Keith) intervened, and the Hawks were able to knot things up very late in the final frame. Keith was skating on his own for an extend time in the offensive zone, hovering and lingering until a Marian Hossa shot attempt ended up on his stick, and there was no one to stop Keith from putting it home. In a game in which the most notable sequence was the high-stick sustained by Daniel Carcillo, who would return, this one certainly lacked excitement.
Which made the shootout particularly intriguing. Scott Darling held the Devils scoreless in the extra extra frame, while Jonathan Toews left Kinkaid's pads lying all over the ice on a dirty backhand and Patrick Kane just threw the puck past Kinkaid, opting out of his typical shootout display, to escape from New Jersey with the two points. It wasn't the prettiest of contests, but the Hawks got the job done nonetheless.
The Blackhawks are on to Boston, while we are on to the three stars:
Three Stars of the Game
3. Scott Darling
Darling did his thing once again in this one, and has many continuing to wonder if the Blackhawks would be better served with him rolling as their no. 2 goaltender. While those questions are still irrelevant for another couple of weeks, Darling stopped 20 of 22 shots and stoned both New Jersey attempts in the shootout. He kept the Hawks in it while they struggled to find offense. Not an overly flashy performance, but Darling hasn't had to be to this point.
2. Jonathan Toews
Toews didn't have a great night at the dot, winning just 38 percent of his draws, but his still performed extremely well outside of the faceoff circle. His Corsi% was off the charts, up over 82 percent, as he added an assist on the Keith goal, a takeaway, and a plus-1 rating. His shootout goal is what really earns him a place here, as a slick move to his right and a backhand had Kinkaid flailing around. For your viewing pleasure:
1. Duncan Keith
With the game tying goal in the final minutes of the third period, Keith is sort of here by default. He did play quite well even outside of his sixth goal of the year as well. He was third on the team in Corsi%, first among defensemen, with a figure up at almost 73 for the night. He had four shots on the night and three takeaways, finishing with a plus-1 rating. His goal demonstrated great awareness, as he floated up to the crease area at just the right time to put home the Hawks' second of the night.