In an Original Six matchup, the Chicago Blackhawks won in style in defeating the New York Rangers 5-3 in Madison Square Garden. In what is normally a huge stage for star players, Chicago was led by the first career hat trick of Artemi Panarin and two points by Teuvo Teravainen to take home the road victory.
The Blackhawks typically play entertaining games against the Rangers in New York, and while this contest wasn't always entirely exciting, it certainly had it's moments.
Chicago wasted no time in this matchup, as just 3:30 into the first period, an excellent pinch by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson led to a quality pass from Teuvo Teravainen to a streaking Andrew Desjardins who redirected it in past Henrik Lundqvist, to make it 1-0.
Later on, on the power play halfway through the 2nd period, Artemi Panarin blasted a laser through an Artem Anisimov screen to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. To that point, while leading in shot attempts, the Rangers didn't really make much noise in the Chicago end. That would change handily.
Chicago struggled to clear the puck late in the 2nd period and Kevin Hayes tapped in a nice pass from Oscar Lindberg behind the net to cut Chicago's lead to just 2-1. The play was created by an excellent forecheck by New York on Erik Gustafsson and Michal Rozsival who each didn't have their best night.
When pressure mounted in the Chicago zone with a little less than 30 seconds left in the 2nd period, recent Rockford call-up Vinnie Hinostroza took a costly four minute high sticking penalty for Chicago. Subsequently, New York would cash in rather easily on both minors almost immediately early in the 3rd period off of goals by Derick Brassard and Dan Boyle to take a 3-2 lead.
It is here where the Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen show climaxed.
9:53 through the final frame, Jonathan Toews carried the puck into the New York zone, was cornered, and found Teravainen who deftly fired a pass to Andrew Shaw with an open net to knot the game up at 3-3. It was the second year player's second primary assist and point on the night. Later, with a little under four minutes to go in the game, a penalty by Keith Yandle would cost New York, as Patrick Kane found Artemi Panarin crashing the net and fired a sick backhand pass in traffic to Panarin who gave Chicago the lead back for good at 4-3.
It was the league leading scorer's in Kane, 83rd point of the season.
The first of many milestones for Artemi Panarin would cap the victory for Chicago. With 1:11 left in the game, a misplayed puck by New York with Lundqvist pulled, allowed the rookie an opportunity he wouldn't waste with an open net, giving the Blackhawks a 5-3 final lead, cementing the win.
Goaltender Corey Crawford was spectacular as usual, stopping 31 of 34 shots, adding to his growing Vezina trophy candidacy. Crawford now has 31 wins on the season and sits only behind Washington Capitals goalie, Braden Holtby, who has 35 victories. Also, with Panarin's two power play goals, the Blackhawks have now scored seven power play goals in the last two games. The special teams unit is simply on fire.
Teravainen laughs in the face of trade talk
- After rampant trade speculation of the young talented forward in the past few days that was completely unwarranted, the Finnish rising star made quite the impression. Teravainen was easily the best forward on the ice as his line with Desjardins and Phillip Danault was also the best in the game. Teravainen showcased his instinctive playmaking ability on slick passes to both Desjardins and Shaw. What those that wanted him traded for some reason won't note, is that Tervainen has been making these kinds of offensive plays for awhile now. It's just that his teammates haven't been slotting the puck in and finishing the opportunities. With Andrew Shaw's monster game tonight as well, don't be surprised if we see a line of Shaw-Danault-Teuvo continually dominating soon.
- While many have noted the bonuses Panarin will receive based on his performance recently, all of that talk was forgotten temporarily by a historic milestone night for the rookie. With two power play goals and an empty netter that made up his first career hat trick, Panarin continues to be the huge talent salvo that's kept Chicago more than relevant as a Stanley Cup favorite this season. For example, the power play hasn't exactly been a strength in the Joel Quenneville era. To be fair, it still isn't always completely consistent. However, it's better than it's ever been because of players like Panarin who possess the perfect creative playmaking ability to take full front on the man advantage. Cap bonus overages discussion will be put on the back burner as long as Panarin continues to cash in like this.
- After stepping out of Joel Quenneville's doghouse for recent struggles, Gustafsson didn't exactly impress on Wednesday night. He wasn't strong with the puck in his own zone and was most notably taken clean off of it on the forecheck on Kevin Hayes's goal for New York. The rookie clearly has more than capable offensive instincts. He's going to have to grow more on the defensive end though in order for the Blackhawks to make a deep postseason run and possibly feel comfortable not making a trade to bolster the defense. This is a situation to monitor.
Behind the first and second stars of the game in Panarin and Teravainen, the Blackhawks captured a big win in New York. Hopefully these kinds of performances will be coming more and more from the two young stars.
The Blackhawks next game is not until Sunday, when they visit the Minnesota Wild as part of the 2016 NHL Stadium Series. The game will be played outdoors in TCF Bank Stadium and is set to start at 2:30 CT.
Robert Zeglinski is a staff writer and contributor for Second City Hockey and No Coast Bias. He is currently the sports editor at Aurora University. You can follow him on Twitter @ZigZags82.