A third-period goal from Patrick Kane — set up by a brilliant pass from Erik Gustafsson — was the decisive tally in a 3-1 win for the Chicago Blackhawks over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday at the United Center.
Near the middle of the third, Gustafsson froze the entire Anaheim defense by winding up for a slapshot and then fired a pass across the ice to Kane, who had an empty net and didn’t miss:
Kane puts the Hawks up 2-1 pic.twitter.com/hUjFkyYReh— Ⓜ️arcusD ᴿᴵᴾ ᴹᵃʳᶜᵘˢᴰ² (@_MarcusD3_) October 24, 2018
Anaheim thought it had a game-tying goal later in the period, but Ryan Kesler’s rebound goal was waved off due to a high stick. Then, in the final minute, Brandon Saad added an empty-net goal — his second of the game and this season — to seal the victory.
Saad also had the game’s first goal, part of a dominant first period for the Blackhawks. During a power play, Saad took a pass from Alex DeBrincat, spun toward the Anaheim net, and then finished off the rebound from his first shot to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 advantage.
The Blackhawks control of the puck continued into the second period until one quick turnover tied the game at one. A Jonathan Toews pass was intercepted by Anaheim’s Richard Rakell, who converted on the ensuing breakaway for a 1-1 deadlock.
The score remained that way until Kane broke the tie and Saad padded the lead, giving the Blackhawks their second regulation win of the season.
Saad’s promotion pays off
Saad finally looked like his old self against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night, and he continued to flash the speed and skill that made him such an important player during his first Chicago stint. The task for Saad, now, will be to replicate that performance every night. Maybe Saad’s first goals of the season will provide the confidence boost he needs to be consistently worthy of a top-six role. Not only did he score twice, but Saad also had seven shots on goal, something he hadn’t done since March 29 — indicative of how active he was against the Ducks.
Gustafsson does it again
There will still be some moments when Gustafsson makes mistakes in his own end, but his abilities at the other end of the ice are going to keep him in the lineup. That pass to Kane to set up the game-winning goal wasn’t an anomaly — he’s been making plays like that all season. Gustafsson and Kane, in particular, have developed a special chemistry that has each player looking for the other when Chicago possesses the puck.
Time for a win streak
A solid performance against a team that was struggling is an excellent start, and, with similar efforts in the next few weeks, the Blackhawks can rack up points in a hurry. During the next 10 days, the Blackhawks will face a team that’s rebuilding (the New York Rangers), a team that’s still struggling (the St. Louis Blues), a team that is not expected to be much (the Vancouver Canucks) and a team that also appears destined for the bottom of the standings (the Edmonton Oilers) — twice. Stocking up on points now, when the Blackhawks are playing well, could pay dividends come April.
- Brandon Saad (CHI) — 2 goals, 7 SOG
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — GWG
- John Gibson (ANA) — 35 saves