The Blackhawks turned in another all-around performance that won’t find its way onto any highlight reels but still ended up with two points in a 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings.
As was the case for much of the game, Chicago spent the first period being largely outplayed by Detroit — at least from a possession standpoint. But they were able to capitalize on two chances in the opening 20 minutes. First, Mattias Janmark scored off a nifty pass from Carl Soderberg:
That goal was at the 4:19 mark of the first. About 12 minutes later, Dominik Kubalik tipped a Brandon Hagel pass into the net:
Jon Merrill's pass hit Dominik Kubalik then Brandon Hagel raced into the offensive zone and sent a pass to Kubalik, who scored to extend the lead.— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) February 16, 2021
Brandon Hagel#Blackhawks 2, #LGRW 0 pic.twitter.com/sDbF8obOEL
Detroit scored the goal it deserved in the final minute of the first period when Vladimir Namestnikov buried a rebound to make it a 2-1 game heading into the first intermission.
The second period was scoreless, although Patrick Kane nearly made it a 3-1 Blackhawks lead in the final minute:
The third period unfolded like the first period, with Detroit again owning the play. And all that possession ultimately resulted in a game-tying goal, courtesy of Red Wings defenseman Christian Djoos:
Detroit had several other scoring chances that were unsuccessful in the final 20 minutes, including a 3-on-1 that failed to muster a shot on goal. With the teams unable to break the 2-2 tie, the game carried into overtime but Kubalik ensured it wouldn’t make it to a shootout:
It was another ugly win for the Blackhawks, but a win nonetheless. Chicago is now 8-2-4 in its last 14 games. Let’s talk about it.
- Malcolm Subban made 29 saves on 31 shots and was a big reason why the Blackhawks earned two points in this one. His rebound control and puck tracking are both areas that can be improved but he’s been good enough to keep the Blackhawks competitive in his last few outings, which wasn’t the case earlier this season.
- Brandon Hagel has to get a goal at some point, doesn’t he?
- It’s been mentioned before, but Kubalik’s nine assists through 16 games this season were wildly encouraging, as he was finding a way to contribute even when he struggled to put the puck in the net. With two goals against Detroit, he’s up to five on the season. Kubalik’s acquisition continues to be one of the best of Stan Bowman’s career.
- Calvin de Haan flashed in multiple moments at both ends of the ice during this game.
Chicago is getting results lately, but let’s talk about the process: because it’s not very good right now. Finding ways to win is great and all but the Red Wings OWNED the puck in this game. During 5-on-5 play, Detroit had:
- 60.2 percent of the shot attempts
- 63.4 percent of the scoring chances
- 66.7 percent of the high-danger chances
- 65.6 percent of the expected goals
That’s bad! Really bad!
And it’s not like the Red Wings were possession juggernauts entering this game, which is part of the reason why they’re again among the league’s worst. This comes after last Thursday’s game against Columbus which saw a similarly one-sided possession battle. That the Blackhawks keep finding ways to win isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can offer some insight into the team’s improving intangibles. But teams that earn playoff berths and make deep runs into the postseason and ultimately lift the Stanley Cup tend to be ones that find ways to win as the exception, not as the rule like the Blackhawks are now. Eventually, some progress needs to be made in the 5-on-5 portions of the game where Chicago has been severely lacking this season. Once progress is noticeable there, then the path back to the top of the NHL mountain will start to come into focus.
- Dominik Kubalik (CHI) — 2 goals
- Malcolm Subban (CHI) — 29 saves on 31 shots
- Brandon Hagel (CHI) — 1 assists, 1 takeaway, 2 shots on goal
The Blackhawks remain in Detroit to face the Red Wings on Wednesday at the American Little Caesars Arena at 6:30 p.m.