Alex DeBrincat scored two goals, and Corey Crawford made 42 saves for the Blackhawks to defeat the Predators 2-1 in overtime Friday at the United Center. The Blackhawks (27-26-8) climbed within six points of the Flames and Coyotes for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Sometimes you just need a win
Oh boy did Chicago need a win. After two losing streaks (0-3-2 and 0-2-0) broken up by just one win in between, the Blackhawks saw their stock plummeting rapidly, and were being discussed as major sellers (read: Brandon Saad) at the deadline. While the Blackhawks remain behind in the wild card race, some hope is always a good thing.
DeBrincat’s play this season has been widely discussed, and while his shooting percentage remains dreadful, his play around it has not been great. Against the Predators, DeBrincat did what he needed to do, scoring on a deflection on the power play in the third period and on a breakaway in overtime.
DeBrincat scored two goals, shot the puck eight times, had seven high-danger chances and 1.26 expected goals for against the Predators. If he can do similar things down the road for maybe they’ll stand a chance of accomplishing something positive.
If nothing else, DeBrincat is now four goals away from 20 this season.
Crawford made 42 saves, including 22 high-danger saves, and had a 4.59-expected goals against. Those are numbers from the old Crawford, the guy who might’ve been the League’s best goaltender from 2013-18.
Crawford allowed one goal and shut down the Predators when the game became critical. He’s been excellent in the new year, having only two performances below a .900 save percentage, and in that time, he has a .926 save percentage. He’s making it hard to choose between Robin Lehner and himself, if the Blackhawks do move one at the deadline, a performance like that makes it even harder.
Erik Gustafsson healthy scratch
Gustafsson was a surprise healthy scratch, and while they didn’t exactly play better defense without him, they did score on the power play. Duncan Keith got two assists playing in Gustafsson’s role instead of his own.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reported before the game no trade was incoming immediately, but sitting Gustafsson may have been precautionary before the NHL trade deadline on Monday (2 p.m.). If the Blackhawks are resting Gustafsson three days before, they’ll likely rest him Sunday as well, should he remain on the team by then.
Gustafsson has been the one universal player on the market for the Blackhawks, and he has long been expected to be moved. That now appears to be more realistic than ever before. He has likely played his last game in a Blackhawks sweater.