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Patrick Sharp scores go-ahead goal in Blackhawks’ 5-2 beatdown of Rangers

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A great start to 2018 for the Blackhawks.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at New York Rangers Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks steamrolled over the New York Rangers for a 5-2 win in one of their best performances of the season Wednesday night. The score may be padded by a pair of empty netters, but make no mistake, this was an encouraging effort to conclude a rough six-game road trip for the team.

During 5-on-5 play, this game was a total beatdown. The Blackhawks led 62-34 in shot attempts, 28-13 in shots on goal, and 3-1 in goals scored. In terms of expected goals, it was 3.02 to 1.01, per Corsica, so the real results were right in line with that. If it wasn’t for Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar play and the Rangers having six power plays to the Blackhawks’ one, this game could’ve been a lot more lopsided than it already was.

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Vinnie Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, and Patrick Sharp scored goals for the Blackhawks. Sharp put home the go-ahead score midway through the third period, and Kane and Toews added insurance goals with the empty net in the final minute.

Hinostroza’s goal came in the first period off a nifty pass from Toews after corralling a wild puck off the boards right onto the winger’s stick.

Schmaltz’s was the result of some good fortune as a drive to the net ended with Marc Staal flying into the net along with the puck. Ryan Hartman was the first one to notice on the ice and begin celebrating before a quick video review confirmed it was a good goal.

In the third period, Sharp scored the go-ahead goal with a vintage shot that we haven’t seen nearly enough this season. It was beautiful.

And then came the empty netters to put things away. But really, a 5-2 score seems appropriate given how well the Blackhawks played throughout this game. The road trip may have been a bit discouraging at times, but if there’s one thing we know about this team right now, it’s that we don’t know much.

CHI GOALS: Hinostroza (2), Schmaltz (8), Sharp (4), Toews (11), Kane (17)
NYR GOALS: Holden (3), Zibanejad (12)

3 Things

Hinostroza earns another crack on first line

We’ve seen other guys show flashes in bigger roles before falling back to reality, so expectations need to be tempered, but Hinostroza looked good in this latest stint next to Toews and Saad. He recorded a point for the third straight game and it seemed like that line was dangerous pretty much anytime it was on the ice. It was encouraging outing.

The Toews penalty conundrum

Yes, Toews had two points for the second straight game, so that’s the main thing to focus on. But early on, he continued a trend that’s been a bit frustrating to watch this season.

One of the reasons that the Blackhawks have been relatively effective this season is a strong penalty differential, but not thanks to the captain. He recorded two more penalties in the win over New York and now has committed a team-high 15 penalties this season.

That’s not a great sign for a player who has long been lauded for his stellar defensive play partially because of his ability to avoid penalties.

Henrik Lundqvist is still a beast

Not that it’s totally surprising, but man, Lundqvist can still really play. The 35-year-old had been on a roll entering this game and the Blackhawks’ barrage of shots couldn’t quite end that. The Rangers’ superstar netminder has a .934 save percentage over his last 21 games, a stretch in which New York has posted a 12-7-2 record.

New York was clearly the inferior team much of Wednesday, but Lundqvist narrowed the gap significantly.

3 Stars

  1. Patrick Sharp (CHI) — 1 goal
  2. Jonathan Toews (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Nick Schmaltz (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist