Two days after winning “the biggest game of the season so far,” the Chicago Blackhawks kicked off their first of back-to-back games north of the border. And if visiting Minnesota was a test of what the Hawks could do, Friday’s matchup in Winnipeg was a chance to show even more growth. Chicago had yet to beat the Sub-.500 Jets yet this season.
That changed with a 5-2 victory by the Hawks at the MTS Centre as the Anisimov line got hot, Crawford stayed sharp and Chicago stretched its winning streak to four games.
Here’s how it happened.
The Hawks got off to a strong start thanks in most part to the Rasmussen-Kruger-Hossa line. On that trio’s first trip into the offensive zone, they held onto the possession for more than a minute — with the puck mostly on Hossa’s stick — coming up with a few scoring chances before ultimately drawing a penalty. The power play was unsuccessful (the Hawks are 1 for 16 on the power play against Winnipeg this season), but the early pressure kept up. Chicago was outshooting the Jets 10-2 with just more than eight minutes to play. That finally translated to the scoreboard with 4:23 left in the first period as Patrick Kane buried a one-timer from Artemi Panarin. The play started with Artem Anismov forcing a Winnipeg turnover near the blue line as it tried to exit the zone. Anisimov tapped the puck to Panarin who fired it to Kane for his 269th career goal — the most in Blackhawks history by a U.S. born player.
The Jets would find some offense near the end of the period, but Corey Crawford responded perfectly, making a save on Mathieu Perreault that will end up among his best of the season. The Hawks’ goalie slide left to right to close off an empty net at the last second to make a toe save, robbing Perrault off the rush.
Chicago finished the first period outshooting the Jets, 16-9, and up 1-0.
The frame opened up with the Hawks killing off an abbreviated power play thanks to a Kane hooking call at the end of the first. Despite coming up empty on the man-advantage, the Jets offense continued clicking and finally broke through when Bryan Little put home a big rebound off Crawford for a goal in the first two minutes of the period. While the Jets possessed the puck more in the second, it didn’t exactly translate to the scoresheet. They finished the period with seven shots while trying to slow down a Hawks group that kept generating chances.
Jonathan Toews had multiple great opportunities to continue his hot streak, getting stymied 5-hole on a partial breakaway, then missing top corner on another shot soon after.
Still, the Hawks cashed in again with Anisimov batting home a rebound off a Panarin one-time blast into an otherwise empty net midway through the frame. For the second time on the night, all three forwards on that line registered a point on the goal.
Chicago took a 2-1 (26-16 SOG) lead into the final intermission.
Naturally, the Jets went all out on offense in the third, but that still didn’t translate into shots on goal early on. Midway through the period, Winnipeg had only put four pucks on net with the Hawks defense coming alive to keep shots from reaching Crawford. Trevor van Riemsdyk put together one of his best shifts of the season, sliding to block a shot, leading a rush through two checks and then hustling back in transition to stop a Jets attack.
Winnipeg got the majority of its best looks in the third on a power play late in the frame, but Crawford responded with a big save on Mark Scheifele — and a bullet dodged when a Patrik Laine shot wide on a point blank look — as the Hawks escaped with another kill.
A Duncan Keith shot from the point a few minutes later gave the Hawks some insurance as Connor Hellebuyck whiffed on a save and the puck found the back of the net. Marian Hossa added another tally on a empty net just a minute later. The Jets’ Adam Lowry beat Crawford in front of the net shortly after, but by then it was too late to do much else. Panarin added another empty-netter for good measure, anyways.
SCH’s 3 Stars of the Game
- Artemi Panarin (1 goal, 2 assists)
2. Artem Anisimov (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Patrick Kane (1 goal, 1 assist)
The Hawks close out their six-game road trip in Edmonton on Saturday night. From there the team will go on their bye week, not playing again until February 18 against the Oilers in Chicago.