It was a night of breaking slumps for the Chicago Blackhawks, who beat the Arizona Coyotes, 2-1, at Gila River Arena on Thursday night. Andrew Shaw and Brad Richards both broke their respective scoring droughts with goals, and they happened to come on the power play, where the team had been looking dire in recent weeks.
Pretty much no matter what you statistic you look at from this game -- well, other than the scoreboard -- the Blackhawks dominated. The team had a 45-18 shot advantage, buoyed by a 7-2 advantage in power plays, and also dominated faceoffs, 37-19.
That's all good, though the overall result could've been better. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith made a number of fantastic saves in this game, and while the shot total was huge, there weren't many big mismatched opportunities. Arizona played a pretty conservative game for the most part, and it kept them in the mix until the final seconds.
A late penalty from Joakim Nordstrom, who crushed Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the boards in pretty rough fashion, left the Coyotes with a final push. The team pulled Smith to go 6-on-4 and try to force overtime, but Corey Crawford and company held on to cap another impressive defensive performance.
Crawford also deserves praise for his performance. While the goaltender wasn't challenged a ton, he still saved 17 of 18 shots faced. That's his fifth straight game with a save percentage better than 93 percent, and the overall numbers over the past five games are simply fantastic: 4-1, .966 save percentage, 1.00 GAA. Yeah.
However, the big story from this game is still the end of some frustrating streaks. Not only did the team's power play finally capitalize thanks to a rush of opportunities, but Shaw and Richards finally got back into the offensive mix. Shaw's last goal had come Jan. 28 in Los Angeles, while Richards had been waiting even longer, his last goal coming Jan. 11 against Minnesota.
So this was a pretty positive performance from the team, scoreboard side. A 2-1 win is a tad underwhelming in the scope of things, but not worth sweating about. A plus-27 shot differential is unbelievable, and a couple guys who had been quiet for weeks finally came to life. The defense, a source of frustration throughout the season, has actually looked pretty solid the past few games. Even if a blowout would've been nice, I think we can all be fairly satisfied with this. Onto the next one.