The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets entered the game Saturday both hoping to put a stop to their downward trajectory in the standings. Although it was a little hairy at the start and end of the game, the Blackhawks pulled out a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets.
As stated above, the game started off poorly for the Blackhawks as the Blue Jackets scored two goals in the first 3:13 of the game.
First, Michael Del Zotto’s shot from way out found its way into the net through traffic just 1:03 into the first period. The Blue Jackets had about four other scoring chances prior to this goal, so it didn’t look good for the team in red to start.
Second, noted Blackhawks-killer Cam Atkinson redirected Jack Roslovic’s shot from the right wing board into the net to put the Blue Jackets up 2-0 about two minutes later. For some reason, Atkinson was left all alone in front of the net. Probably not a good strategy.
The Blackhawks took a timeout immediately after going down 2-0, presumably for Jeremy Colliton to ask his team if they were planning to show up for the game.
The pep talk seemed to work, as the Blackhawks took control of the period after the timeout. Just under the 10-minute mark, Alex Debrincat cut the lead to 2-1 with a one-timer from the right face-off circle late on the power play.
Then with 2:58 left in the first period, Carl Soderberg shoveled a pinballing puck past Elvis Merzlikins to tie the game 2-2. The Blackhawks were back in it.
The second period started much better for the Blackhawks as they scored 3:07 in to put them in the lead 3-2. A shot by Wyatt Kalynuk trickled behind Merzlikins and in, and although there was a review for goaltender interference, the good goal call on the ice stood for the first goal of Kalynuk’s career.
The Blackhawks continued to dictate pace throughout the second period, outshooting the Blue Jackets 15-7, and they were rewarded with a goal late to extend the lead to 4-2.
A long pass from Adam Boqvist sprung DeBrincat into the offensive zone, and then a tic-tac-toe passing play between DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and Dylan Strome found the back of the net with 3:20 remaining in the period.
Debrincat and Strome reunited on a line — who knew it would be so good?
After dominating in the second period, the Blackhawks seemed to turtle hard in the third. Kevin Lankinen was called upon to make several big saves throughout the frame to keep the Blackhawks up by two, including this save on Oliver Bjorkstrand after a turnover by Kalynuk.
To make things anxiety-inducing, Patrik Laine scored his first goal in 15 games to cut the lead to 4-3 with 49 seconds remaining in the game. Max Domi passed through traffic to Laine, who one-timed the puck from the left faceoff circle.
Max Domi➡️ Patrik Laine— Midwest Sports (@MidwestSports14) April 11, 2021
Luckily, the Blackhawks held on for a 4-3 win over the Blue Jackets, a much needed victory for both the morale of the team and to keep their playoff hopes alive.
- Connor Murphy called the Blackhawks “fragile” after the loss to the Stars on Thursday, but it was the resilient Blackhawks who showed up tonight. After going down 2-0 quick, the Blackhawks held the Blue Jackets to only one shot on goal for over 25 minutes and outscored them 3-0 in that span. Gotta like that response.
- The second period was one of the best the Blackhawks have had in awhile: they had 68.18 percent of the shot share and 80.34 percent of the expected goals share at 5-on-5. Their transition and passing during their period is likely going to rank in their top five periods of the season as well. It was especially nice to see that good play be rewarded with goals, something that hasn’t always happened lately.
- For as good as the Blackhawks were good in the first and second periods, the third left a lot to be desired outside of Lankinen. The Blackhawks were outshot 14-4 and allowed four high-danger chances in the final frame. Turtling for an entire period has been costly for the Blackhawks a lot in the past, so they were lucky they made it out with only one goal against.
- Lankinen allowed two goals on the first four shots he faced and it won’t show in his final .885 save percentage, but he’s the reason the Blackhawks kept a lead in the third period.
- Calvin de Haan left in the second period with a hip pointer. Colliton said after the game he hopes the injury is not long-term.
- The newly combined line of Brandon Hagel, Pius Suter, and Patrick Kane was pretty rough at times during the game. It may just take more time together to get some chemistry going, but they felt like the most out-of-sync line of the game. Kane got three of his four shot attempts away from his primary linemates.
- On the other hand, DeBrincat and Strome were reunited with Dach between them and the combination resulted in one of the prettiest passing plays of the season. The trio had several other beautiful offensive plays as well.
- Boqvist won’t get a point for it, but major credit to him for springing DeBrincat on the goal mentioned above.
- The line of Dominik Kubalik, Philipp Kurashev, and Vinnie Hinostroza continued to have great chemistry as well as they had 82.86 percent of the expected goals share when on the ice together. It’d be nice if they’d played more than 6:52, though.
- The Blackhawks needed this win to keep pace in the race for the final playoff spot in the division, so they got their job done, and hopefully this momentum carries into their next stretch of games and reverse their bad luck as of late. If there is something we’ve learned this season, it’s to never count this Blackhawks team out.
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goals, 1 assist
- Calvin de Haan (CHI) — 2 assists
- Kevin Lankinen (CHI) — 13 saves on 14 shots in the third period
The Blackhawks face the Blue Jackets again on Monday at Nationwide Arena at 6 p.m.