The roller-coaster ride continues.
A buzzkill of a loss on Friday night against the Vegas Golden Knights was followed by one of the Chicago Blackhawks more comfortable victories of the season: a 4-1 win over the fledgling Edmonton Oilers.
Chicago started fast in this one, with Nick Schmaltz corralling a loose puck and tucking it through the legs of Edmonton netminder Cam Talbot to put the Hawks up 1-0 early. Alex DeBrincat added another tally with a fortunate bounce off of Darnell Nurse’s skate, making it a 2-0 Hawks’ advantage after one period.
Anton Forsberg yielded a soft goal in the second period that temporarily made it a one-goal game. But then a vintage Jonathan Toews drive to the net put the puck on Brandon Saad’s stick for a tap-in goal and Chicago was back to a two-goal lead to start the third period.
pow·er#Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/pnhQfpXzQ6— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 7, 2018
Jordan Oesterle added an insurance goal in the third period, part of a final frame that was rather uneventful: just the way the Hawks liked it after blowing a third-period lead against Vegas on Friday night.
It’s thought time!
EDM Goals: Nurse (3)
CHI Goals: Schmaltz (10), DeBrincat (14), Saad (13), Oesterle (3)
The top line is feeling it.
Who knew that Vinnie Hinostroza was the cure for what ailed the top line? His promotion to the top line seems to have invigorated both Toews and Saad while Hinostroza himself is in the midst of a four-game point streak. It should not come as a surprise that the Hawks’ offense has come to life around the same time that the Hawks’ top line has caught fire.
Anton Forsberg did the job.
His overall grade takes a hit because the goal he gave up to Darnell Nurse in the second period was not a good one. But looking at the full product reveals a much better performance than that one play would indicated. Forsberg displayed much better rebound control than Jeff Glass has exhibited in his limited action, and should be the Hawks’ netminder in their next outing.
Two huge points acquired, and now a crucial week looms
Any reference to the Blackhawks’ place in the NHL standings has seemingly always been followed by “with games in hand.” But that’s going to change this week, with Sunday’s game kicking off a quick six-day, four-game spurt of action for the Hawks. The two games at the end of the week against Central Division opponents — the Minnesota Wild and the Winnipeg Jets — give Chicago a chance to (finally) gain some ground in the playoff race.
1. Anton Forsberg (CHI) 25 saves
2. Nick Schmaltz (CHI) 1 goal
3. Brandon Saad (CHI) 1 goal