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After the Party: Blackhawks 3, Flyers 1

The Blackhawks got a lead — and kept it!

Philadelphia Flyers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

For the first time in just over a month, the Chicago Blackhawks took a lead and hung onto it, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 on Monday night at the United Center.

Early in the first period, Erik Gustafsson activated REVENGE GAME mode with a seeing-eye point shot that found its way into the back of the net just 1:44 into the game:

About 4:30 later, Jonathan Toews exited the penalty box just in time to take in a pass from Sam Lafferty and the captain cashed in on the fortuitous timing with a breakaway goal to double Chicago’s advantage:

Two minutes after the Toews’ goal, Kevin Hayes exacted revenge on the team that drafted him by cashing in on a two-on-one to make it a 2-1 score:

The score remained that way for nearly two full periods of play until this Alex DeBrincat one-timer in the third period restored Chicago’s two-goal advantage:

A few attempts towards an empty Philadelphia net were unsuccessful but ultimately irrelevant as Chicago hung onto a lead for the first time since March 23, sealing a 3-1 victory.

Notes

  • Perhaps this is a lesson in confirmation bias on my part, but Jake McCabe talked after the morning skate about being more aggressive as the season progressed as he gained more and more confidence in his surgically repaired knee. In this game, it sure seemed like McCabe was more active in the neutral zone and also not afraid to jump into a rush or two in the offensive zone. He’s always been billed as more of a defensive-minded player, though, so perhaps this was more of an exception than the rule and — again — the result of biases on my part. The quality of the opponent can also be considered here.
  • Taylor Raddysh set up Philipp Kurashev for a pair of golden opportunities and I believe it was Tyler Johnson who set up Kurashev for a third one during a second-period power play. None of those chances ended up in the net, though. Kurashev’s been in a bit of a slump lately: he has just two goals and four assists in the last 22 games. While he remains one of the favorites of the SCH staff and seems to have plenty of the tools that would make for a quality NHLer in the future, but it’s hard to ignore that he hasn’t quite taken as big of a step forward as we were all hoping he would this season.
  • The Chicago power play generated 12 shots on goal and five high-danger chances during 10:29 of work. Although it did not score, the chances were plentiful (including the Kurashev one mentioned above). It’d be much easier to shrug this night off, though, if the power play hadn’t been trending downward for the last several weeks.
  • Go watch that third-period goal from DeBrincat again to fully appreciate the level of skill on display during it.
  • That said, about a minute later, DeBrincat forced a turnover in the neutral zone and skated in with Kane nearby and Strome trailing for an odd-man rush. DeBrincat didn’t shoot, looking for a pass to Kane instead, and the scoring chance ended without a goal. At the morning skate, coach Derek King talked about DeBrincat needing to shoot the puck even more and that feels like the exact type of play he was referencing.
  • No, the Flyers are not going to evoke memories of the Gretzky-era Edmonton Oilers but Kevin Lankinen hasn’t had the best stretch of play so stopping 33 saves on 34 shots is a welcome reversal of fortunes for the Finnish netminder. Lankinen talked to the media after the game about some specific parts of his game that he’s been working on with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite:

“Handling the puck, fighting traffic, finding different solutions to pucks around the net. Sealing posts and making good decisions on when to stay down and when to challenge the shooter.”

“In this league it’s always a challenge with traffic. Every team wants to screen the goalie, throw pucks at the net. I think a lot of guys are good around the net screening you, so that’s one big thing as a goalie is being able to find the puck wherever it is and staying big and trusting on your instincts when you don’t see the puck and even cooperating with the D and knowing what they’re going to take away and what’s your job. I think the D core did a good job tonight helping me out as well.”

  • It’s a win in a season without many of them. Probably won’t sustain us for long but it sure as hell beats another loss.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Jonathan Toews (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Alex DeBrincat (CHI) — 1 goal
  3. Kevin Lankinen (CHI) — 33 saves on 34 shots

What’s next

The Blackhawks play their final home game of the season on Wednesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights with puck drop set for 7:30 p.m.