Despite a poor showing on the penalty kill, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 Thursday night for their second win in the 2021 preseason.
The Blackhawks came out strong, scoring three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. The first goal was courtesy of Tyler Johnson on the power play with helpers from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The newly configured powerplay had good movement again before Johnson shoveled the puck into the net after a scramble in front.
Tyler Johnson (@tjohnny09) opening goal pic.twitter.com/wqsc1j2AYu— NHL (@NHL) October 4, 2021
Jake McCabe then beat Thomas Greiss thanks to a screen created by Dominik Kubalik.
Make it 2-0 thanks to Jake McCabe pic.twitter.com/RJmyODukUZ— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 4, 2021
The third goal was a combination of young guns as Philipp Kurashev scored off a centering pass from Brandon Hagel.
3-0 Us— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 5, 2021
Philipp Kurashev gives us our third goal of the night! pic.twitter.com/JgR42NMNAL
Marc-André Fleury made quite a few impressive saves at 5-on-5 play in the first and second period like the one below:
Glad you're one of us now, Fleury! pic.twitter.com/4yWfg0FVUZ— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) October 5, 2021
Early in the second period, Bobby Ryan got the Red Wings on the board on the power play. Chicago answered a few minutes later as MacKenzie Entwistle scored to make it 4-1. Hagel also got his second assist of the game after out hustling everyone on the play and making an incredible pass to set Entwistle up.
the pass + the goal = pic.twitter.com/ADj7R7eaBa— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 5, 2021
The Red Wings scored twice on the power play just over halfway through the middle frame to make it 4-3. First, a slapshot from Moritz Seider found its way through traffic. Later, Robby Fabbri cashed in after a great passing play that stretched the Blackhawks penalty killers too much.
Unfortunately, the third period would start much like the second went. The Red Wings scored another power-play goal just over three minutes into the third — this time from wonder kid Lucas Raymond — to tie the game 4-4.
The Blackhawks regained the lead after Hagel forced a turnover and fed Entwistle, who scored his second goal of the night. That was also the third assist of the game for Hagel.
MACK ATTACK— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 5, 2021
We are up by 1! pic.twitter.com/1GtykERkdd
Fleury made an amazing glove save to keep the Blackhawks up 5-4 with 2:40 left in the game.
things not to sleep on: Fleury— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 5, 2021
things to sleep on: your own pillow on the plane pic.twitter.com/oEvZORMgfn
Alex DeBrincat sealed the game with an empty netter and the Blackhawks won 6-4.
The Blackhawks also won the totally meaningless shootout with goals scored by DeBrincat and Johnson.
- The kids are definitely still alright. Entwistle scored twice, Kurashev once and Hagel had three assists on the night. Entwistle and Kurashev are making it difficult for the Blackhawks to keep them off the opening roster despite being two of the only waiver-exempt forwards in serious contention for spots. And Hagel was still easily the Blackhawks most noticeable forward, even though he’s got his place in the lineup locked up already.
- Although he didn’t score, Henrik Borgström is another youngster who had an excellent game. He led the team in shot attempts (5), scoring chances (4), and expected goals (0.21) at 5-on-5. He also flashed his playmaking skills that might have resulted in a goal or two if his linemates — Mike Hardman and Ryan Carpenter — were better natural shooters.
- Toews seems to be in great game form despite missing all of last season as he racked up another three points (all primary assists) and won 11-of-16 faceoffs in 17:21 of ice time.
- Jake McCabe and Seth Jones did have a better outing at 5-on-5 as they got their sea legs under them, but they are still working out the kinks: some passes missed the mark and they covered the same guys during a couple of opposing rushes.
- Fleury had a good game despite allowing four goals, as most allowed on the penalty kill were through screens or missteps by the PKers in front of him. The score could have been much worse if he hadn’t been in top form in the second period when the Wings were pouring it on, and the late highlight-reel save in the third was just amazing.
- The line of Debrincat, Johnson, and Kane was the worst at 5-on-5 as they were absolutely buried in terms of their share of the shot attempts (26.32 percent) and expected goals (34.12 percent). It’s only their second game together, but they struggled to hold on to possession and generate meaningful scoring opportunities in the other game as well. Johnson was a good pick-up in the off-season, but whether he can be a 1C (as he was played tonight) is still to be determined.
- The penalty kill was pretty much trash — not just because they allowed four goals in five opportunities but because of how easy those goals were allowed to be scored. The Blackhawks weren’t very good last season either — 28th in penalty kill percentage in the league with the 23rd worst expected goals against per 60 rate. Hopefully it’s a one-game issue, but it’s definitely a trend to watch for as the games progress.
- On the other hand, the power play continues to look quite competent. They only scored once with the man advantage but I haven’t seen “clown shoes” referenced once in game threads so far.
- The Blackhawks were also the better team overall at 5-on-5, despite a little dip in quality of play in the second and late push by the Wings in the third. As mentioned before, poor second periods are a trend to watch and there’s obviously work to do cleaning up miscues, but it was overall a solid effort.
The Blackhawks have two days off before they face the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center Thursday night for a 7 p.m. start.