A huge performance from the Blackhawks’ second line keyed a 5-2 win over the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon at the United Center for Chicago’s seventh consecutive win — the longest streak of the season.
The rookie is heating up. Against the Wild on Feb. 2, he had two assists, following that up with another two-point performance (one goal, one assist) against the Oilers last Tuesday. But Kahun went even further against the Red Wings, scoring twice and setting up a third for the first three-point game of his NHL career. That gives Kahun seven points in his last four games and 27 points in 56 games this season — a solid NHL debut season for the 23-year-old forward.
The entire second line
Along with Kahun, Dylan Strome (one goal, two assists) and Alex DeBrincat (three assists) also had three-point games, by far that trio’s best game since that line was put together by coach Jeremy Colliton. And it’s an encouraging development, too. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been on massive scoring binges during the last few weeks, driving this seven-game win streak. But, eventually, the production from those two will likely slow down, and it’s vital that the Blackhawks have another source of offense. The DeBrincat-Strome-Kahun line could be that.
Chicago’s playoff hopes
This win streak has vastly improved the possibility of a Blackhawks’ playoff berth. According to the daily projections from Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, the Blackhawks experienced a 13.6 percent increase in their odds of a playoff spot, the second biggest jump in the league (the Blues moved up an incredible 43 percent). Chicago’s chances now sit at 20 percent, a long way from the 2 percent mark from January.
Once again, the Blackhawks were outshot, this time by a 45-36 mark. At even strength, Detroit held a 47-35 advantage, according to Natural Stat Trick. Chicago’s been outshot during 5-on-5 play in four of the last five games, with the 6-2 win over Edmonton as the only outlier. The Blackhawks offense has come to life during the last few weeks, but the constant barrage against Chicago’s net suggests that goaltenders Collin Delia and Cam Ward may be playing the biggest roles in this win streak.
The power play
We had to find something else to put here, OK? Chicago’s power play went 0-for-2 against the Red Wings, just the second game in 2019 that it failed to put one in the net. The Blackhawks generate five shots on goal during their two power plays and had a few scoring chances, but were unable to finish those chances. Expect a power play unit that is oozing confidence to look for a “rebound” effort Tuesday night against the Bruins in Boston.
Two-way hockey be damned. As the Blackhawks and Red Wings were battling for a loose puck just in front of the Chicago net during the third period, Kane took off for the neutral zone. When Toews corralled the loose puck, he flipped it to the far blue line, where Kane was already waiting.
There are a lot of players who’d be rightly criticized for pulling the move that Kane did on that play. But Kane’s earned the right to take gambles like that because of how often they work. Kane appears to have a knack for knowing when one of his teammates is about to win the puck and flies the zone accordingly. This time, it worked perfectly, resulting in the goal that put the game away.