Blackhawks lay an egg before Christmas, fall big to Jets at home
The Blackhawks fell behind early and in bunches, as they were unable to recover from a three-goal first period deficit at home against the division rival Jets on Tuesday.
I'll level with you. I had this grand plan of substituting an actual recap of tonight's Chicago Blackhawks - Winnipeg Jets tilt with nothing more than the ol' poop emoji. That's how I felt about the performance of the home team on Tuesday night. But, alas, that's probably frowned upon so we'll press on.
Tonight was not good. How's that for a hot take? The Blackhawks simply never had it at any point, surrendering three first period goals to the suddenly upstart Jets, who have actually played pretty well throughout much of this year. Those three goals cost Corey Crawford his night, as he was pulled in favor of Antti Raanta, who only gave up one for the remainder of the contest.
Right about midway through the first, in a span of about five minutes, the Jets struck for the trio, with goals coming from Mathieu Perreault, Bryan Little, and Anthony Peluso. Perreault added another on the power play early in the second. The only response the entire night came on a Marian Hossa goal that narrowed the deficit to three. Blake Wheeler extended it again to a 5-1 edge with an empty net goal after Joel Quenneville pulled Raanta with five minutes remaining in the third.
Much to the chagrin of the collective fanbase of the Hawks, several former members had solid nights for Winnipeg. Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and Michael Frolik all notched points. In addition to the former Blackhawks, this is a much improved Winnipeg team from the one we've seen in years past. They're suffocating defensively, having allowed the third least amount of goals in the Western Conference, and have fared quite well on the road to this point. They could certainly remain in the playoff mix as the season wears on.
There isn't much to say about this one overall, though. The Hawks were plagued by turnovers and defensive breakdowns. We don't need to go too deep into anything to acknowledge that. Additionally, they were stoned on nearly every opportunity for the second consecutive time by Michael Hutchinson. After shutting out the Hawks in the first meeting between these two earlier this year, he stopped 35 of 36. Dude eats his Wheaties before meeting the Blackhawks.
Do we have a three stars? I guess it's custom, even after this kind of tilt.
Three Stars of the Game
3. David Rundblad
I like Rundblad, so I'm going to put him in the mix here. He finished at 19:27 for ice time on the night, an impressive total considering his partner Michal Rozsival found himself stapled to the bench in the third. He logged some time on the power play again and finished with a Corsi +/- of plus-11. Another quietly strong night for him as he makes his case for remaining in the lineup regularly.
2. Antti Raanta
Oh, the goalie controversy talk from the meatballs is going to be a blast in the coming days. After Crawford was pulled, Raanta came in and did the job. He allowed just the one goal on the power play, with the other coming when he was on the bench for the extra attacker. He stopped nine of 10 after coming in for Crawford, who surrendered three goals on 13 shots. He's not going to supplant Crawford as the no. 1 anytime soon, but the coaching staff is getting more and more comfortable with him.
1. Marian Hossa
As the lone goal scorer, Hossa takes the no. 1 honor by default. Hossa scored his seventh of the year in the second period, leading the way with five shots overall. He added a couple of hits as well. His possession numbers for the evening were not terrific, but as the only source of offense on the night, he grabs the top spot.
The Blackhawks won't play again until they meet the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. It's certainly been an emotional couple of days for them, so a small stretch off for the holiday should do them some good.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas, everyone.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.