Forsberg leads Blackhawks to 3-1 win over Islanders

Chicago’s young goalie played like an old veteran.

The Chicago Blackhawks made it a series split with the New York Islanders this season, picking up a 3-1 win on the road on Saturday night. Anton Forsberg turned in one of his better outings of the season, stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced.

Chicago benefited early from some of the puck luck that’s eluded the team all season. After a scoreless first period, Patrick Kane gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead when he scored after his attempted centering pass hit off Adam Pelech’s stick and went through the legs of Jaroslav Halak.

About two minutes later, Brandon Saad scored when he pursued a rebound, put it towards the net and got a fortunate bounce off of Halak’s skate to make it a 2-0 Hawks lead.

John Tavares spoiled Forsberg’s bid for the first shutout of his NHL career by scoring on a brilliant backhand shot with 2:42 left in the game. But Brent Seabrook put the game away with a 200-foot empty-net goal 88 seconds later.

To the thoughts!

3 Thoughts

Patrick Kane, No. 1 center?

It’s certainly not a permanent thing but the Hawks did get away with it for an evening. Kane’s offensive skills are not in question, but there have been instances where his two-way game wasn’t great. Although, a player of Kane’s stature can be forgiven for defensive lapses while playing out on the wing. As a center, though, those defensive responsibilities become vital and Kane handled the role well. He, along with linemates Saad and Alex DeBrincat, led the Hawks forward in possession numbers and he had a smooth stick lift of Tavares that prevented a scoring threat from one of the Islanders best scorers in the third period.

A rebound performance for Anton Forsberg.

In Forsberg’s last two starts, he gave up four goals in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche and was pulled in the first period of a game against the Winnipeg Jets when he gave up three goals on six shots in about 10 minutes. Although the Islanders defense has been atrocious, its managed to score the seventh-most goals in the NHL this season, so containing them was an impressive bounce-back outing that Forsberg needed after a few rough ones. He was especially effective while the Islanders fired everything they could at the net in a third period, including a power play when the puck stayed in Chicago’s end for almost the entire two minutes. It took a nearly unstoppable shot from Tavares to beat Forsberg in this one.

It’s a win. Enjoy it.

Having the first two goals go in off of Islanders feels like the type of fortune that’s been largely absent from the Blackhawks side this season. And the Hawks played fairly well after those early benefits to make those goals be all they’d need for a win. It’s the type of solid, steady performance that you’d expect out of the Hawks in March while wrapping up a playoff seed. That’s not the case this season but it’s still a welcome reprieve from some of the soul-crushing losses that the team’s endured over the last few months.

3 Stars

  1. Anton Forsberg (CHI) 29 saves, 30 SA
  2. Patrick Kane (CHI) — 1 goal
  3. Brandon Saad (CHI) — 1 goal