The Blackhawks beat the Hurricanes 2-1 on Tuesday to win their first game after back-to-back losses.
The Blackhawks had a quiet first period — just five shots on goal through the first 20 minutes. That does not mean the whole period was quiet, however, as the Hurricanes had 13 shots and 0.89 expected goals, all at 5-on-5. The Blackhawks had two minutes of power play and had just one shot attempt that was not on goal.
The Blackhawks would get a jump start to the second period as Dylan Strome, back from paternity leave, scored his sixth goal of the season:
Dylan Strome scored with a wrist shot from the right face-off circle in his first game since the birth of his daughter, Weslie. #dadgoal— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 31, 2021
Connor Murphy#Blackhawks 1, #LetsGoCanes 0 pic.twitter.com/hQGxEN2fkV
Less than four minutes later, on the power play, Patrick Kane took the puck away from Brett Pesce in the offensive zone and passed to Alex DeBrincat, who scored from the doorstep:
PP Patrick Kane stole the puck from Brett Pesce then sent a pass across the slot to Alex DeBrincat, who extended the lead with a power-play goal.— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 31, 2021
Patrick Kane#Blackhawks 2, #LetsGoCanes 0 pic.twitter.com/wN3jRifjB5
Andrei Svechnikov deflected a puck after a faceoff later in the second period to make the score 2-1.
A scoreless third period saw very low-event hockey. Both teams generated just four shots aside at 5-on-5. Each side had one high-danger chance in the third period at 5-on-5. It was a period filled with malaise and not much action.
Still, the Blackhawks held onto the lead and won after cracking down defensively.
- After two weak efforts in both first periods against Nashville, Jeremy Colliton spoke about how concerning that was. This game is likely not going to help. The Blackhawks had just 0.1 expected goals at 5-on-5 and five shots — with no high-danger chances — in the first 20 minutes. The Blackhawks have struggled to open games recently and that continued against Carolina on Tuesday.
- Kevin Lankinen is the reason the Blackhawks won this game. He made 31 saves and essentially stopped every puck he stood a chance on. The lone goal against was banked off of Wyatt Kalynuk in front of the Chicago net. Lankinen saved 1.12 goals above expected and was perfect from both medium (7-for-7) and low danger (16-for-16). He was especially important in the first period as the Hurricanes mustered seven high-danger chances and 0.9 expected goals in the first 20 minutes.
- The defense cracked down in the second and third periods. They allowed just four high-danger chances across all strengths in the final 40 minutes and allowed just seven shots in the final frame.
- The Blackhawks’ offense was a weak spot. Besides the great play made by Kane on the power play goal and similar efforts from Kirby Dach and Connor Murphy to start the scoring play for Strome’s goal, the Blackhawks offense was lackluster. They generated just 0.91 expected goals across all strengths (0.77 at 5-on-5) and four high-danger chances. The Blackhawks took advantage of the few chances they generated and that turned out to be enough for the victory.
- The Blackhawks’ forward lines were crushed in terms of possession. The line of DeBrincat, Kane and Pius Suter had just 0.06 expected goals at 5-on-5 to 0.5 against (10.7 xGF%). The best line was Dominik Kubalik, David Kampf and Brandon Hagel with 0.22 expected goals for to 0.34 against (39.2 xGF%). Even that’s not great.
- Kalynuk played in his second career NHL game against Carolina on Tuesday. He played 12:25, all at 5-on-5, and had two giveaways while blocking two shots. He was on ice for zero shots for and six shots against.
- Patrick Kane extended his point streak to five games on the assist on DeBrincat’s goal. Kane didn’t shoot the puck in this game and had zero expected goals, but he didn’t need any to make a difference.
- Even Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour had to admit: “this was kind of a gross game”.
- Kevin Lankinen (CHI) — 31 saves, 2.12 expected goals against
- Dylan Strome (CHI) — 1 goal, 0.26 expected goals
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 assist, two takeaways
The Blackhawks face the Hurricanes again on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the United Center.