Despite the New York Islanders tying the game in the final seconds of regulation, the Chicago Blackhawks pulled out a 3-2 shootout win on Sunday night to complete a successful 2-1-0 road trip.
The Blackhawks got on the board first as an Alex DeBrincat one-timer deflected in off Brandon Hagel on the power play at the 6:49 mark of the opening period:
Brandon Hagel makes it 1-0 and here is proof of it pic.twitter.com/kbkPp9KfSB— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 6, 2021
The first period was a pretty even affair for the most part, though the Blackhawks were a bit more sloppy with the puck than they have been in recent games. Luckily, Marc-Andre Fleury was ready to clean up any mistake — including one occasion of defending the net with a sliding poke check way out of the crease:
The Islanders got a power-play goal of their own 8:03 into the second period when Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped a long shot from Sebastian Aho — no, not that Sebastian Aho — to tie the game 1-1.
✋ coordination from Pageau pic.twitter.com/cFOKT2yNGI— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 6, 2021
The Blackhawks regained the lead 5:59 into the third period to thanks to a goal off the rush by Dylan Strome. A rushing Erik Gustafsson had his pass attempt to DeBrincat knocked away by an Islander, only for the puck to go straight to Strome, who one-timed it into the net.
The Blackhawks kept pressure on Varlamov in the final minutes and he needed to make a couple of big saves late on DeBrincat and Kirby Dach to keep the Islanders within reach.
Unfortunately, Varlamov’s good work paid off as Noah Dobson tied the game with 2.3 seconds to go, and the Blackhawks and Islanders took a 2-2 score into overtime.
WATCH IT AND TRY NOT TO SCREAM. pic.twitter.com/gG5EQ7TO5H— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 6, 2021
With nothing happening in overtime, the Blackhawks and Islanders headed to the shootout where Fleury is perfect and Patrick Kane scored his second shootout goal of the season to secure a 3-2 Blackhawks victory.
- The game tonight opened with both teams looking like they’d played the night before, but the Blackhawks had a bit more trouble with puck management in the first 40 minutes than the Islanders did. But even with that sloppiness, it wasn’t anywhere near the disaster they looked at the start of the season, and the Islanders only had three high-danger chances in those two periods, so it all ended up being alright.
- Outside of allowing a tying goal in the final seconds of the game, the Blackhawks had as good a period as any in the third for this game: 65.22 percent of the shot attempts, 64.29 percent of the scoring chances, and 58.77 percent of the expected goals. Normally that’d be a great close-out period — too bad it was spoiled.
- Offense is still only on a trickle right now for the Blackhawks. After two games of improvement, the Blackhawks only mustered five high-danger chances at 5-on-5. Considering Varlamov came into this game with a sub .900 save-percentage, they probably should have tested him more. It’s a good thing the Islanders are as offensively challenged as the Blackhawks or only two goals in regulation wouldn’t have sufficed for a win.
- Strome has been driving play well over his last several games so it was good to see him be rewarded with a goal. It’s also hopefully a sign that more players can get going offensively to help out the big three of Kane, DeBrincat, and Seth Jones.
- There’s not much more that can be said about Hagel — he’s excellent no matter where in the lineup he plays.
- Seth Jones had another strong, well-rounded game. You have to admire his physical abilities and commitment to the play no matter what. There were some moments on the penalty kill when he looked especially sharp tonight.
- However, it would be nice if Jones didn’t have to play more than 25 minutes a night. He’s doing a great job carrying the workload so far, but ideally the Blackhawks should try to lean more on the other guys in the absence of Connor Murphy and Jake McCabe. No defender outside of S. Jones and de Haan played even played 19 minutes — not an ideal strategy for too long.
- Someone who may be able to fill the temporary void more is Ian Mitchell. He’s looked calm, cool, and collected in both games so far. It’s early yet, but between his games here and how well he was performing in Rockford, this may be the Mitchell we always expected.
- Overall, tonight was a decent showing for the Blackhawks. There are still kinks like the offense and down periods of play, but the fact that they got better as the game progressed was great.
- Seth Jones (CHI) — 1 assist, 5 shot attempts, 28:07 ATOI
- Dylan Strome (CHI) — 1 goal
- Brandon Hagel (CHI) — 1 goal
The Blackhawks are back at the United Center to face the New York Rangers Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. start.