Blackhawks’ 4th line steps up in 4-2 win over Coyotes

Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels scored in Chicago’s road win.

Lance Bouma — yes, Lance Bouma! — came through in the clutch to score the game-winning goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-2 win over the Coyotes on Saturday night. Talk about a great finish from the fourth line.

Bouma’s first goal with the Blackhawks came at the best time possible. A rebound from a Duncan Keith shot bounced his way in front of the net, and the winger managed to get the puck to his forehand to finish off the play.

The Coyotes pulled goaltender Louis Domingue after that to try to force overtime, but Tommy Wingels scored an empty-netter to put the game away. It was an incredible finish from the fourth line, which had not generated much offense in the first eight games of the season.

Saturday’s contest swung in the second period over the course of a minute. First, Wingels drew a penalty shot and appeared to score, but referees waved off the goal because Domingue made contact with the puck before the shot. The play is dead when that happens.

It’s felt like a lot of these calls haven’t gone the Hawks’ way this season.

Less than a minute later, Calder Trophy candidate Clayton Keller scored his sixth goal of the season off a rebound to tie the game. Just like that, a 3-1 game became a 2-2 game.

However, Wingels and company weren’t done, as they delivered those clutch goals in the third period. The Coyotes are now 0-7-1, so it’s not exactly the most important victory, but two points is two points.

CHI GOALS: Panik (2), Kane (4), Bouma (1), Wingels (1)
ARI GOALS: Fischer (2), Keller (6)

3 thoughts

Another good night for the PK

The beginning of last season was a total disaster for the Blackhawks’ penalty kill. Somehow, even after losing their top two shorthanded players in Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger, they’ve found themselves in the top 10 in killing penalties so far this season.

The Coyotes earned four power plays in a brutal sequence during the first period that included over 90 seconds of 5-of-3 time for the bad guys. The Hawks limited them to just one shot on goal, which is impressive even against a team that hasn’t been great with the man advantage. Overall, Arizona went 0-of-5 on the power play in the loss.

Faster personnel and a system that’s more aggressive higher in the zone have led to good results for the Hawks so far. How much does that have to do with new assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, who was brought in partially to handle the PK? It’s hard to say, but he deserves credit for what’s happened so far.

The good and bad of Brent Seabrook

It’s always going to be controversial when you criticize a beloved three-time Cup winner like Seabrook, but this game was a good microcosm of his performance. Overall, it was pretty good, including a 55.8 percent 5-on-5 Corsi and a 2-0 advantage in 5-on-5 goals. However, there were some hiccups indicative of an aging player slowing down.

The most obvious example was this miscommunication and terrible pass in the first period:

Now, not everything was bad here. He recorded a power play assist in the first period, and largely played well at even strength after an unsuccessful stint with Jordan Oesterle to open the game. His performance was not as bad as the GIF above would made you think.

But Seabrook continues to be a source of consternation for Blackhawks fans between his performance and his contract. Lord knows we’re all rooting for him to play like he did in the second half of Saturday’s game because the alternative won’t be fun for anyone.

Bouma in the clutch!

Few players in the Blackhawks’ lineup get more criticism than Bouma, who joined the team over the summer on a one-year, $1 million contract. The reason for that is obvious: His underlying statistics the previous couple seasons were terrible.

But now we’re nine games into the 2017-18 season, and Bouma ... actually hasn’t been that bad. He’s posting a 5-on-5 Corsi over 50 percent, throwing his weight around with 22 hits, and even scored a game-winning goal. Joel Quenneville is also smartly not using him on the penalty kill, where he had struggled badly in recent years.

I really did not like the Bouma signing at the time, partially because it felt redundant after adding Wingels, but he’s been better than I expected so far.

3 stars

  1. Lance Bouma (CHI) — 1 goal, 1 assist
  2. Jonathan Toews (CHI) — 2 assists
  3. Corey Crawford (CHI) — 27 saves on 29 shots