Hockey is a funny game sometimes. It’s one of the few sports where you can get absolutely out-played for an entire contest, and one player is the reason you win the game. That was the case tonight for the Blackhawks against the Vancouver Canucks with goaltender Marc-André Fleury absolutely stealing a two-point win for Chicago, their first win in Vancouver in five years (Nov. 19, 2021).
The Blackhawks needed to have a bounce-back effort after getting shelled against the Edmonton Oilers last night. They did not have a great response and were once again in for a night of shelling. But fortunately for the Blackhawks, Marc-André Fleury was up to the task of stopping everything coming towards him. Recording his first shutout of the season, Fleury made 40 saves and was helped by the goalpost on a number of occasions. Of course, Fleury was very appreciative of the help.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) November 22, 2021
In his last four starts for the Blackhawks, Fleury has made 135 saves on 140 shots and has won all four of those appearances. His record has improved to 5-7-0, with a .911 save-percentage. He has also gone 13-0-2 in his last 15 starts against the Vancouver Canucks. Might be safe to say that the Marc-André Fleury the Blackhawks thought they were going to get this season has officially arrived with the club.
Of course, Fleury couldn’t score to help his own cause tonight. That came from Brandon Hagel tipping-in a shot from Erik Gustafsson in the third period. After Chicago was out-shot 30-13 in the first two periods of play, the Blackhawks seemed to put together the perfect period of hockey, perfect enough anyway, to get away with the win. Chicago out-shot Vancouver 11-10 in the final period, with Hagel’s fifth goal of the season being the difference.
BOOM! 1-0 us pic.twitter.com/zEogVcQ0M2
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 22, 2021
This was not a performance that you want to hang you hat on if you are the Blackhawks. They were killed by a team that is not good. They went 0-for-3 on the powerplay against a Canucks team that has the worst penalty-killing unit in the NHL. Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach are taking the most faceoffs of any player on the Blackhawks this season. Dach was 5-for-13 and Toews was 5-for-15 tonight at the dot. Over the weekend, Dach was 10-for-28 and Toews was 11-for-30. That’s not going to get it done.
But a win is a win. Beat the teams that are put in front of you, how ever you have to do it. Chicago improves to 6-10-2 on the season, 5-1-0 under interim head coach Derek King. The Blackhawks are now tied with the Canucks with 14 points in the standings and are ahead of the Islanders, Canadiens, Senators, Kraken, and Coyotes. Chicago finishes their four-game road trip on Tuesday night in Calgary, taking on the Flames.
Find the full box score here.