Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his first career NHL goal and the second line put on a show as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New York Islanders, 4-1, on Saturday night. The second leg of a home-and-home between the two teams, Chicago looked considerably more comfortable and nearly recorded the shutout before a last-minute shorty by Cal Clutterbuck.
The Hawks got out to their first early lead of the season thanks to TVR's goal, which came on a nice backhand shot off a juicy rebound.
Trevor van Riemsdyk goal pic.twitter.com/kNY2RnstgW— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 11, 2015
That set the tone as Chicago dictated play throughout the game, especially in a second period that saw the team extend its lead to three goals. Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane added goals in an amazing stretch for that line, which was clearly the best on either team. Then the Hawks got one more on the power play in the third period on a 5-on-3. This ridiculous pass from Teuvo Teravainen set up Brent Seabrook's slap shot:
This Teuvo pass is just delicious I want to eat it https://t.co/ffxKAXyKQq— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) October 11, 2015
Even though the Hawks only had a 34-29 shot advantage, it didn't always feel like the defense was in danger. TVR and Trevor Daley have looked better since that brutal season-opener, Viktor Svedberg held his own after a poor debut and the Hawks often pushed New York in its own zone, especially with the Panarin-Kane-Artem Anisimov line on the ice.
Scott Darling was also fantastic for the Hawks. The backup goaltender saved all but one of the 29 shots he faced to fall just short of delivering a shutout in his first game of the season. Even without the blank sheet, this was yet another steady performance from Darling to get his first win of 2015-16.
The Hawks improve to 2-1-0 on the season. The Islanders drop to 0-1-1 after being dealt the tough task of playing their first two games against the defending champs.
ONE, TWO, TREE THOUGHTS
Holy second line, Batman!
At some point we're going to need to figure out a nickname for trio of Panarin, Kane and Anisimov because they were ridiculous at times Saturday. There was a shift in the second period where Panarin and Kane basically passed the puck around for 30 seconds before setting up a shot for TVR, which Kane proceeded to deflect past Jean-Francois Berube for a goal. The hockey skill displayed on the wings is ridiculous for two players just starting to build chemistry. Toss in a quality two-way center like Anisimov and the second line shifts are quickly becoming Chicago's best moments.
The Daley conversation
Yes, it was bad in the season-opener, and everyone called it out. Daley and TVR just didn't cut it against the Rangers and their early gaffes put the team in a big hole. So it's only fair to acknowledge Saturday night that the duo looked much better, not only making quicker plays with the puck but looking active on the offensive end. On another middling possession night for the Hawks, Daley and TVR were actually among the team's better performers in that area. One thing to notice is that neither player had any defensive zone starts, so the coaching staff worked to shelter them a bit. Maybe that's what it will take to help Daley and TVR get comfortable playing major minutes in Chicago's system, which they did Saturday. At least for the time being, it seems that we're seeing progress on that end, which is really all you can ask for in Game 3.
Still waiting on the wings
Viktor Tikhonov played just 10:03 on Saturday night. Bryan Bickell was at 11:11. Meanwhile, the Hawks are reportedly trying to trade for another defenseman. As solid as some of the big names on Chicago have looked this season, it's clear that the team hasn't settled several spots at the bottom early on. Tikhonov started playing Friday night in place of Kyle Baun, who struggled in the opener against the Rangers. He hasn't made a big impression, either, while Bickell has looked non-existent most of the time. The Hawks have some other options in Rockford -- the most obvious being Marko Dano -- but we're going to keep asking these questions when it seems so apparent the team isn't crazy about all of its options.