Coming off of a largely embarrassing 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday, the Blackhawks played host to a hot Carolina Hurricanes team on Monday night at the United Center. The 'Canes came into this one winners of three straight, including a dominating 5-3 performance over the Eastern conference power New York Islanders on Saturday. The Blackhawks have struggled in games prior to tonight,and were featuring two new players in key roles, so the potential for a tough loss was there. It didn't become a reality.
Instead, the Blackhawks dominated Carolina, controlling most of the play and generating quite a few quality scoring chances, 5 of which they were able to capitalize on. Captain Jonathan Toews led the way, scoring each of Chicago's first two goals, both on breakaways.
The first came on a gorgeous pass from none other than Michal Roszival. While Rozy has been a favorite whipping post this season due to some consistently bad play, the pass he made on this pass was incredible. We're talking perfectly timed, right on the money, breaking Toews in all alone for a one-on-one with Carolina goalie Cam Ward that really just wasn't fair. Toews sniped the corner above Ward's glove, and the 'Hawks wouldn't look back.
Other good goals came from Brandon Saad - who turned in one hell of an effort in the offensive zone before getting off two shots, the first getting blocked and the second finding twine - and Marian Hossa, who made backup Anton Khubodin look silly with an unfair snapshot to the glove side.
New Blackhawks Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette played well, also. Vermette struggled a bit on the dot, but played well on a line with Saad and Patrick Sharp, generating a few scoring chances. Timmonen looked to have very little rust on him, despite this being his first game since April 30, 2014. He moved well, was positionally sound, and even shut down a few zone entries effortlessly.
Say what you want about the Hurricanes and their last place divisional standing in the Metro division, they came into this game hot, and the 'Hawks absolutely ran them out of the building. This is a big win for the Blackhawks, and a good first step toward improving down the road to the playoffs.
Three stars of the game
3. Teuvo Teravainen
Sure, Teuvo is a bit of a blogger-favorite, but tonight's game definitely showed why. Teuvo was all over the ice tonight, generating scoring chance after scoring chance. Playing on a line with Bryan Bickell and Brad Richards, he turned in a very strong performance, despite the fact that he was unable to get his name on the scoresheet. But with more consistent play like this, the goals and assists are coming, just wait.
2. Kimmo Timmonen
As I mentioned before, Kimmo was great in his Blackhawks debut. He was very sound throughout the game, and if he only gets better from here, it will certainly be a good thing. While he wasn't on many of our radars for a trade, this could turn out to be a very smart acquisition by Stan Bowman.
1. Jonathan Toews
It's a bit of a hockey cliche that when your team needs someone to step up, it's generally the captain that does so, but tonight that cliche played out in full effect. Toews was the best player on the ice, bar none. He notched 2 breakaway goals, one of them shorthanded, and assisted on Hossa's goal in the third. With Patrick Kane out, it's obvious that other guys are going to have to step up and carry the load for this team. Toews showed he is willing and able to do so tonight.