Despite not making the playoffs, the Blackhawks preached closing out the season positively, and they took steps towards that goal, ending their losing streak at six games with a late, come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Hurricanes Thursday night in Carolina.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring 9:49 into the first period. On the power play, Duncan Keith had the misfortune of being accidentally kneed in the face by an official, allowing Martin Necas plenty of space for a shorthanded breakaway and beat Colin Delia with a nifty move.
NHL Video Highlight - Martin Necas scores a shorthanded goal against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 1-0. pic.twitter.com/w4Go3HyTkT— Chicago Blackhawks Game Bot (@BHawksGameBot) May 6, 2021
Here is a closer look at Keith running into the official with his face. The veteran defenseman skated one more 46-second shift towards the end of the period but then was held out the rest of the game.
At the end of the period, the Blackhawks trailed 16-9 in shots, 10-6 in high danger chances, and 1-0 in goals.
The Blackhawks came out for the second frame with a fire lit under their asses, outchancing the Hurricanes 15-4 through about the first six minutes of the period at 5-on-5. Dominik Kubalik had a couple of good chances through the opening minutes as did Alex DeBrincat on the penalty kill.
Manifesting a Kubalik goal tonight, so we can finally use the KUB-A-LEEK tweet we've been wanting to use all season... pic.twitter.com/VefoNTGDiX— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) May 7, 2021
Also manifesting a DeBrincat goal... pic.twitter.com/LKNSnSp62p— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) May 7, 2021
Petr Mrazek needed to be excellent to keep the Hurricanes up 1-0.
Unfortunately, a too many men penalty derailed some of their momentum, and while the Blackhawks kept the Hurricanes off the board, the Hurricanes took over the game once again. Delia had to make several saves to keep the score close, including this stellar one against Jesper Fast off a 3-on-2.
At about the seven-minute mark of the period, the Blackhawks lost another player to injury as Brett Connolly left the game after colliding awkwardly with Steven Lorentz. The Blackhawks played the rest of the game with only 11 forwards and 5 defensemen.
Despite a much better performance on the ice, the Blackhawks still trailed the Hurricanes 1-0 after 40 minutes.
The third period was more low-event than the first two, and the Blackhawks struggled to break through the Hurricanes strong defensive shutdown strategy. However, this is a Blackhawks team that tends to fight to the very end, and they were rewarded for their perseverance with a late goal to send the game to overtime.
After some good offensive zone cycling, Riley Stillman deflected a Pius Suter shot past Mrazek to tie the game with 3:01 left.
The Blackhawks and Hurricanes ended regulation knotted 1-1. Overtime, here the Blackhawks come!
Although the Hurricanes got the first few chances in overtime, it was the Blackhawks who scored the game-winner as DeBrincat found the net on Chicago's first shot in the extra period.
And so the Blackhawks defeat the Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime.
- The first goal kind of summed up much of the Blackhawks latter half of the season: they’re not a great team, but they’re also just really unlucky when they’re actually playing pretty well. Dumb shit like that, helmets being pulled off, or awkward collisions with opposing players have cost the Blackhawks almost as much as general defensive breakdowns down the stretch. Luckily it didn’t cost them tonight’s game.
- The bad luck extends to injuries as well. Keith and later Brett Connolly both left the game due to medical reasons.
- The Blackhawks response during the second period was great. Normally the middle frame is owned by the Hurricanes, but the Blackhawks came out fast and strong. They trailed off at the end after a penalty kill, but still finished the period with 54.76 percent of the shot attempt share, 77.78 percent of the high-danger chance share, and 68.35 percent of the expected goals share at 5-on-5.
- Even though the first period wasn’t great for the Blackhawks, the second made up for it enough that the first 40 minutes were statistically some of the best hockey of the season for the Blackhawks when it came to quality chances for. They ended with 14 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 action, which was their third-highest total in a game this season. Mrazek was very good, the jerk.
- Speaking of good goalie performances, Delia also had a great game. The Blackhawks were better about generating chances, but they still allowed a lot against as well, and Delia made the big saves when needed. Great to see him get a victory before the season wrapped and he was so expletive happy after the game.
- Riley Stillman became the seventh Blackhawks rookie to score their first NHL goal this season and the second in as many games. With Keith injured, he also played 24:25 minutes, third most among Blackhawks defensemen.
- Alec Regula was the tenth rookie to debut for the Blackhawks this season, and he looked decent in his 14:16. His season with Rockford was inconsistent, but his size and skill set combination are very intriguing so hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future when he’s ready.
- Connor Murphy, Nikita Zadorov, and Wyatt Kalynuk also played over 22 minutes and were good throughout the game. Each of these defensemen have had issues as of late, so hopefully they can build off this game to finish the season strong.
- Entwistle is another speedy forward that could be useful in the future. He’s not known for his offensive ability, but it’s possible that he could be like Michael Frolik was with the Blackhawks: a defensive specialist that used his speed to flip the ice consistently and contribute about 15-20 points in a season.
- After a few quiet games, several of the young forwards were extremely noticeable tonight. Kubalik led the team in shot attempts (8) and Brandon Hagel led in high-danger scoring chances (3) while Suter and Philipp Kurashev were the top two forwards on the team in terms of shot attempt share (both over 51 percent).
- Anyone with eyes can tell that Alex Debrincat is having a special season. He just scored his 29th goal in 50 games, he’s top 20 in league in terms of points-per-game, and the defensive side of his game has grown leaps and bounds.
- How great did that win feel? Yeah, it’s disappointing that the Blackhawks won’t be in the playoffs, but I reject the idea that these last few games are completely meaningless. The Blackhawks had a bit of an identity crisis since March, yet tonight showed that they’re still a tenacious group that will always battle. Let’s hope that carries into the next two games as well.
- Collin Delia (CHI) — 36 saves on 37 shots
- Riley Stillman (CHI) — 1st NHL goal
- Petr Mrzazek (CAR) — 25 saves on 27 shots
The Blackhawks return home to face the Dallas Stars on Sunday night at the United Center for a 6 p.m. start.