The Chicago Blackhawks seemed to be sputtering to a loss Friday against the New York Islanders, but a last-minute goal from Artemi Panarin turned the tables in a 2-1 shootout victory at the United Center.
Panarin scored the game-tying goal with just 74 seconds left in regulation as the Blackhawks scrambled to tie the game with the goalie pulled. Coach Joel Quenneville had called timeout just beforehand, and Jonathan Toews won the crucial faceoff that eventually led to Panarin taking one of his patented one-timers from the left dot.
That helped make up for a game where the Blackhawks could’ve been leading anyway, but didn’t seem to have the firepower to beat Thomas Greiss. The Islanders goaltender was playing great hockey, and with Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, and Niklas Hjalmarsson out of the lineup, Chicago couldn’t seem to connect on the kinds of chances that’d beat a goalie in his zone.
Greiss eventually made a mistake on the game-tying goal, failing to get from post to post quickly enough on the cross-ice one-timer, then couldn’t hang on in the shootout. Toews and Panarin scored in the bonus event ffor the Blackhawks to put it away as Corey Crawford perfectly kept the Islanders off the board.
That’s 11 wins in 12 games for the Blackhawks, who now trail the Minnesota Wild by one point with two additional games played. The good news there, however, is that winning the division doesn’t matter much.
You know it wasn’t the most thrilling period when the best scoring chance for the Blackhawks went to Jordin Tootoo. The winger got in behind the defense for a breakaway against Greiss, but as he’s done many times this season, he shot it right into the goalie. Tootoo is now 0-for-35 on shots on goal in 37 appearances this season.
The Islanders also got a breakaway of their own during a Blackhawks power play, and this one felt a tad more thrilling with John Tavares carrying the puck. The back pressure required him to make a play at high speed, though, and Crawford was able to fight off the shot to keep it scoreless.
The Blackhawks got a lot of ice time and shot attempts in the first half of the second period, but it didn’t lead to much. The Islanders were blocking shots all over the place, which is what happens when you’re rolling a less skilled lineup. The Hawks were able to win battles in the neutral zone, but without Artem Anisimov and Nick Schmaltz, they weren’t able to do a ton with it.
That extended to the power play, where the Blackhawks made a mistake that led to the first/lone goal of the season. Brian Campbell made a questionable decision to pinch then lost a puck battle, which gave the Islanders an odd-man rush right as the penalty was expiring. Brock Nelson fired a low shot on goal, and gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead right after Chicago’s power play was over.
It seemed like things weren’t going to come together for the Hawks. They weren’t quite connecting on their passes, and the Islanders’ physical game led to lots of missed and blocked shots. With Greiss playing so well, it seemed like this one might run out of time without the Blackhawks getting a goal.
Then Artemi Panarin did his thing. The Blackhawks called a timeout with the goalie pulled a bit over a minute before the end of regulation to set up their offense. It worked, as Toews won the subsequent faceoff, then some quick passing led to a classic Panarin one-timer from the left dot. Greiss couldn’t get from post to post quickly enough, and we had a tied game.
Overtime was all about goaltending as both goalies made countless big saves. There were odd-man rushes, breakaways, and all kinds of tough shots, but Crawford and Greiss fought them all off to force the shootout. There were a bunch of times when it felt like the game was about to end.
In the shootout — the Blackhawks’ fourth of the season — Toews opened with an impressive, patient goal. Crawford followed that up with a stop on rookie Joshua Ho-Sang’s attempt, which gave Chicago the advantage it needed. After that, Panarin came up clutch again to beat Greiss again to put the shootout away in the third round.
SCH 3 Stars
1. Artemi Panarin (1 goal, 4 shots on goal)
2. Corey Crawford (31 saves on 32 shots, perfect in shootout)
3. Thomas Greiss (30 saves on 31 shots)
The Blackhawks’ schedule gets a little weird here. They play the second leg of a back-to-back against the Predators on Saturday, then have four consecutive days off until they face the Ducks next Thursday. It’s another lengthy break right after the bye week, and sets up a busy final stretch before the playoffs.