In need of a win to keep pace in the Central Division standings, the Blackhawks delivered with a solid 4-0 win over the Red Wings on Saturday night in Detroit.
With Chicago’s win and Nashville’s loss 3-1 loss in Carolina, the Blackhawks now sit two points behind the Predators with 47 points in 45 games. Chicago also has a game in hand on Nashville. Dallas, however, will likely jump ahead of both teams with a win based on points percentage with a win in Columbus this evening (Stars are up 5-1 as of this writing).
In the Motor City, though, Chicago killed off three penalties in the first period — including a double-minor on Duncan Keith — to keep the Red Wings off the scoreboard. In the final minute, the Blackhawks scored the game’s first goal when Vinnie Hinostroza chased down a loose puck and found a wide-open Patrick Kane:
Chicago doubled its lead in the second period, with Brandon Hagel triggering the goal thanks to a strong forecheck. The puck worked its way to the high slot, where Connor Murphy fired a shot that hit Hagel and ricocheted to a nearby Alex DeBrincat, who was staring at an open net:
The score remained 2-0 through the rest of the second period and then jumped to 3-0 early in the third, with Hinostroza again factoring into the scoring. A nifty passing play between Hinostroza, Patrick Kane and Wyatt Kalynuk ended with Kalynuk having an easy tap-in for a goal:
Later in the third, Pius Suter added an empty-net goal for the final margin of victory.
- I’ll admit skepticism when the Hawks traded for Hinostroza, largely because of the team’s propensity for bringing back former players so often that it’s basically a meme now. But Hinostroza has been excellent in an albeit limited sample with Chicago this time around, adding three assists on Saturday night. It wouldn’t be breaking news for a veteran to have a strong start in his new surroundings, considering how rarely Hinostroza was playing in Florida. Maintaining this level of play will determine whether or not the trade is ultimately worth remembering. Excellent returns so far, though.
- Subban wasn’t challenged much and Detroit isn’t exactly the 1980s Oilers but he made all the saves he needed to and displayed better rebound control than at other points this season. Kevin Lankinen is the obvious No. 1 at the moment but that evaluation will likely carry on into next season. A solid night for No. 30.
- Nightly mention of Alex DeBrincat continuing to be a star and a delight to watch.
- There’s been significant lamenting of how the Blackhawks have played with leads this season, so scoring in the first two minutes of the third period to go up 3-0 is a welcome change.
- So here we are: it’s the back half of April and the Blackhawks have what’s essentially a 3-game playoff series against the Predators next week. Chicago probably needs to end up with two more points than Nashville in those three games to keep things interesting in the playoff chase with Dallas now in the conversation as well. While there are still some areas where this team will need to improve in the future, it’s nice to have regular season games late in the schedule with playoff stakes involved — ones worth clearing off a block of time on a weeknight to watch.
- Vinnie Hinostroza (CHI) — 3 assists
- Malcolm Subban (CHI) — 29 saves, second shutout this season
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
The Blackhawks close out this five-game road trip in Nashville on Monday night against the Predators for a 7 p.m. start.