After a five-goal outbreak in the first period, the Blackhawks soundly defeated the Anaheim Ducks 8-3 Tuesday night at the United Center.
Dylan Strome started the scoring just 1:38 into the first period. Alex DeBrincat dropped the puck to Patrick Kane who quickly touch-passed it to Strome at the back door to put the Blackhawks up 1-0.
The Blackhawks made it 2-0 a little over five minutes later after DeBrincat cut around a Ducks’ defensemen in the circle before picking the corner. Kane got the primary assist with what may be his signature move: slowing down after entering the zone to find a trailer across ice.
DeBrincat returned the favor by setting up Kane at the 13:53 mark to make it 3-0 Blackhawks. Credit Alec Regula for winning the board battle in the corner of the defensive zone to start the whole sequence. He won’t get an assist on the play, but it doesn’t happen without him.
Kane picked up his fourth point of the period assisting on Ryan Carpenter’s goal to put the Blackhawks up 4-0. On a delayed penalty, Kane jumped on with Chicago’s fourth line, danced around a bit, and then ultimately sent a shot towards the net which Carpenter redirected into the net.
The scoring wasn’t quite over there. With just 28 seconds left in the first period, Jonathan Toews scored shorthanded after a turnover led to a 2-on-1 with Brandon Hagel. That was Toews’ 350th regular season NHL goal.
The second period picked up where the first left off: with the Blackhawks scoring to go up 6-0 just 19 seconds into the middle frame. Jake McCabe sent a perfectly placed stretch pass to Hagel, who cut before going forehand and then backhand to deke Stolarz out of his net for an easy slide in — and he did it with a Ducks’ defenseman draped all over him.
Unfortunately, the Ducks scored the next three goals in a row.
Jakob Silfverberg got the Ducks their first at 4:31 after Josh Mahura won a board battle behind the net and a nice pass from Sam Steel set up Silfverberg, who squeaked the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Next, Trevor Zegras made it 6-2 at 7:19 in the second period. While on the power play, Sam Steel sent a cross-ice feed to Zegras, who did his best Kane impression by holding just long enough to freeze Fleury and then snipe the puck top-shelf.
Finally, after a lot of cycle time and the Ducks throwing practically everything on net, Adam Henrique tipped a Cam Fowler shot from the point to cut the deficit to 6-3 about 40 seconds after Zegras scored.
The Blackhawks seemed to calm down enough to staunch the Ducks’ momentum and flip the ice in their favor. On the rush, Kane backhanded a pass Dylan Strome who had space to score his second in close to put the Blackhawks up 7-3 with 5:10 left in the period.
The third period was a more quiet affair with the lone goal coming from Strome, who completed his hat trick with 2:44 to spare in the game.
All three players on the top line once again factored into the goal: DeBrincat forced a turnover and then got the puck to Kane in the offensive zone. Kane made another great pass from along the boards to Strome in the slot. Then Strome had enough patience to pick his spot.
And that’s how the game would end, with the Blackhawks defeating the Ducks 8-3.
- Well, that was certainly a lot more fun than the last game. Outside of the first half of the second period, the Blackhawks really controlled the pace of the game tonight. They haven’t been playing that poorly — outside of turnovers — in recent games, but never good enough for a win. Tonight, Chicago was the better team from practically start to finish.
- But, be honest, when the Ducks scored those three goals in the second period, who wasn’t thinking “the Blackhawks might blow a 6-0 lead” when the Ducks got those three goals in a row?
- This is the second game in a row in which the Blackhawks allowed three consecutive goals. It took almost five minutes in this game, which is much improved over the Lightning’s three goals in 32 seconds, but that’s the type of play that can — and often has — hurt the Blackhawks beyond repair this season. Luckily, they had enough of a cushion that the damage was minimal, but it’s definitely a trend to watch out for the rest of the season.
- Patrick Kane had a career-best six points and was the primary assist on five of the eight goals, include all three for Strome’s hat trick. Not that long ago, there were some questioning if Kane could do more for the Blackhawks — never mind that he was between 18-20 points ahead of the next nearest player in a 82-game sample — but suffice to say, he has quieted those doubters with his recent performances.
KANER CONTINUES TO SET THE BAR pic.twitter.com/AVx6aEARKC— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 9, 2022
- Speaking of doubters, there have always been those who opposed the combination of DeBrincat, Strome and Kane because they can be a liability defensively. And while that point isn’t necessarily wrong, those who brought it up ignored that the trio almost always outscored their defensive deficiencies.
- Strome kept the whole birthday goals tradition alive — albeit delayed a day — with his second career hat trick. He finished the game with four points, four high-danger chances, and 78.6 percent at the faceoff dot. Not a bad night at all.
- DeBrincat is on a four-game goal scoring streak. He’s not quite on a 50-goal pace anymore still, but he’s definitely been consistent.
- After a handful of down games, Seth Jones was excellent tonight for the Blackhawks. He led both teams in expected goals percentage with a whopping 74.08 percent — the best share of any Blackhawks player this season who played more than 10 minutes in a game. Interestingly, his minutes were lower than normal — just 14:33 at 5-on-5 and 20:37 in all situations — with both Murphy and McCabe playing a bit more.
- Regula played extremely well tonight and earned over 19 minutes of playing time. Unlike some of the other defensemen brought up so far, Regula’s ice time has pretty much increased every game in the NHL. Considering he missed much of the start of the season due to injury, it’s great to see him having a strong showcasing now.
- Ultimately, the Ducks aren’t exactly an elite team, but they’ve been consistently better than the Blackhawks this season, so credit Chicago for not only winning against a higher ranked team, but doing so in a convincing manner.
[Editor’s note: For the long, long-time readers of this site, please see below:]
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 goal, 5 assists (all primary)
- Dylan Strome (CHI) — 3 goals, 1 assist
- Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assists
The Blackhawks travel to Boston to face the Bruins on Thursday for a 6:00 p.m start.