Whoever said you needed to actually score goals in regulation? The Chicago Blackhawks went scoreless through 60 minutes yet came away with another victory by beating the Anaheim Ducks, 1-0, in overtime Monday night. Two days after beating the Lightning in OT, Jonathan Toews again scored the game-winner quickly in 3-on-3 action after both teams labored through the first three periods.
It's becoming clear that the new OT rules are going to favor a Blackhawks team loaded with skilled players who can thrive in open space. Toews drove hard to the net for the only goal in Chicago's 1-0 win over the the Bolts on Saturday, then followed it up by sniping one past Frederik Andersen to beat the Ducks:
Toews OT winner pic.twitter.com/0WJjYjTRmd— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 27, 2015
After going scoreless in his first seven games, Toews now has back-to-back overtime game-winners for the Hawks. He's the first Chicago player to pull off that feat since Patrick Sharp in December 2011, and now officially looks to be breaking out of that early-season slump. We'd still love to see some production in a more traditional set-up, but if Toews wants to save some scores for the 3-on-3 action, we're not gonna try to stop him.
The Ducks ultimately finished the game with a 39-24 shot advantage, which should tell you something about the performance Corey Crawford had in goal. The Hawks goaltender saved all 39 shots that came his away to deliver a second straight shutout. He's been on fire lately and is a big reason why the goal prevention has held up so well with Duncan Keith on the mend.
This current brand of Chicago hockey may not be pretty, but the Blackhawks are currently riding a four-game winning streak. The team clearly has doubled down on its defense-first strategy with Keith out of the lineup and seems content to grind out games while the blender searches for scoring solutions. As long as the team comes through with strong goaltending and some timely goals, it should be enough to keep up in the crowded West while the team awaits its star defenseman's return.
ONE, TWO, TREE THOUGHTS
Ah, yes, our favorite play of the game. Artemi Panarin seemingly broke the tie in the third period by firing a shot past a sliding Andersen. Referees waved off the goal, however, because the net came off its moorings prior to the puck crossing the goal line. Here's how the net came loose:
the goal (or non-goal, as was called on the ice) currently under review pic.twitter.com/PM6u6NeoNs— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 27, 2015
A review by the NHL affirmed the call on the ice by the referees of no goal. Here's the explanation of that decision from the league's Situation Room:
At 14:25 of the third period in the Anaheim Ducks/Chicago Blackhawks game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Anaheim net. Video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the Anaheim net was displaced before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.5 (x) "Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the referee when the net becomes displaced accidentally. The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the net." Therefore the call on the ice stands - no goal Chicago.
So the first thing to note here is that it's undeniable the net came loose prior to the puck entering the net. The second thing to note is the word "accidentally" in the rule described above. Obviously it's hard to prove someone's motive on a quick play like that, and I can see why the referee made the initial call on the ice. Still, you look at that replay and Andersen pretty clearly uses his skate to push the net off. You can't really prove that's intentional, so I can see why they might not want to overturn the call based on that. Still ... maybe I'm just being a homer but these rules could be in need of a review of their own.
3-on-3 will boost Hawks' record
You get the sense that the Blackhawks are going to get a few extra points this season as a result of the league's overtime rule changes. The move to 3-on-3 has clearly benefited a Chicago team that likes to possess the puck and work in space. Already the Hawks are 3-0 in overtimes in 2015-16. After Toews scored 17 seconds into the OT against Tampa Bay on Saturday to earn the victory, he needed just 51 seconds to do the same against Anaheim. All in all, Chicago has needed two minutes and 57 seconds of 3-on-3 hockey to score three game-winning goals. Who cares if it's "real hockey" or won't be around come the postseason -- in the meantime, 3-on-3 looks like it's going to help Chicago win some games.
Yada yada yada, Corey Crawford is amazing -- jeez, Satchel, we get it already!! Seriously, though, Crawford was amazing yet again Monday night and it deserves to be praised. The goaltender has stopped 60 straight shots over back-to-back shutouts and now has a .943 save percentage for the season. Even coach Joel Quenneville called Crow out after the game, saying he "was great tonight. That was the thing that stood out tonight." With numbers among the league leaders while carrying the load with seven starts in the first nine games, Crawford looks to be settling in for what could be his best campaign since turning heads during the lockout-shortened season.