The transition from their second game of the homestand against the Vancouver Canucks to Friday night's tilt against the New Jersey Devils brought quite a bit of turnover from one to another. With Teuvo Teravainen headed back to Rockford, Michal Rozisval out with a shoulder injury, and Ben Smith serving time as a healthy scratch, there was plenty to look for against New Jersey, for better or for worse.
The Hawks played their first two games of this current homestand to two out of a possible four points. They fell to the Arizona Coyotes in a shootout loss on Monday before stealing a point and falling in overtime against Vancouver on Wednesday. Friday brought an opportunity for the Blackhawks to grab a necessary two points against a pretty mediocre opponent.
Friday brought about some of the same play we've seen lately, while also introducing some different elements into the equation. Marian Hossa continued to be a god out on the ice (literally, not even an exaggeration), while we saw the NHL debut of recent first round draft pick Ryan Hartman. When the dust cleared, the Hawks were able to treat their fans to their first home win in quite a bit, winning at a 3-1 count.
The Blackhawks spent the majority of the game down 1-0, as they were unable to put anything past Cory Schneider for the better part of the first 45 minutes of hockey. Peter Harrold put the Devils up 1-0 about 3/4 of the way through the opning period. It wasn't until Hossa potted a power play goal in the first 90 seconds of the closing frame that they were able to even things up. In what was an excitingly simple wrist shot, Hossa benefited from a Toews screen for the equalizer.
Of course, Hossa wasn't done. On an offensive possession, Toews found Hossa flying into the offensive zone to his left. He found him with a pass, as Hossa took the puck to the net and left the rebound there for Jonathan Toews to clean up and notch what would go on to be the game-winning goal. Kris Versteeg scored his first goal since his return from injury with the net empty in the waning seconds of the game (with an assist from Patrick Kane). It wasn't always the prettiest of games, but it was a necessary two points against a lowly opponent.
There were some interesting things to take note of, as well. For one, Ryan Hartman wasted no time in making his presence felt. He wasted Dainius Zubrus with a hit in the offensive zone in the first period and logged a touch over nine minutes of ice time, over twice as many as Daniel Carcillo. In the not-so-positive-things department, Patrick Sharp is certainly looking like he's on his way out this summer at the latest. He played 13:08, sure, but spent time on the fourth line and was largely a ghost for most of the game.
The Hawks will next hit the ice for another early Sunday game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Onto the stars!
Three Stars of the Night
3. Corey Crawford
Crawford did the job on Friday night, and you can't really ask for more than that. He kept the Hawks within one until they were able to even things up early in the third, kept it tied until Toews scored, and maintained the lead after the Hawks found themselves ahead. He finished with 25 saves on 26 shots overall. He didn't necessarily stand on his head, but after struggling out of the gate after his return from injury, Crawford certainly isn't a concern as we begin to approach the home stretch.
2. Jonathan Toews
We'll put the Captain here simply because he was the one that ended up notching the GWG. Even without that in mind, he still played quite well. He finished with a 65 CF% and won his draws at a 58 percent clip for the evening. Watching that top line go to work is really a thing of beauty, whether it's on the forecheck or the backcheck.
1. Marian Hossa
Really, who else is going to occupy this spot these days? Hossa is taking over every single game he appears in lately. The top line was strong in possession all night, with Hossa taking home a CF% of 67 for the evening. He scored the equalizer early in the third before using his speed and power to set up an easy Toews rebound on the game-winner. He's just on another level right now, and you really can't say enough about how well he's played of late.