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Comeback Kids, Power Outage, Panarin Is My Hero and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night was an example of a game that the Blackhawks from October and the first week of November would have lost. They gave up a goal in the first minute of the game, were out-played in the first period, and faced a 2-0 deficit heading into the first intermission. Against a tough opponent like the Blues, it would have been easy and familiar for the Blackhawks to fold and eventually lose the game by a score of 4-1 or 5-2.

But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was a response from a Chicago club that has found ways to win that they didn’t have early in the season. Behind a solid goaltending performance from Kevin Lankinen, the Blackhawks were able to climb their way back into the game, out-playing the Blues over the final 40 minutes of regulation and eventually force overtime. There, the two CAT-alysts to Chicago’s offense did what they are paid to do. The response in last night’s game was the first instant this season where Chicago was playing a team better than them and found a way to beat them. It wasn’t pretty, but ugly wins and pretty wins count the same in the NHL.

This is a new Blackhawks squad. They are playing with a new outlook on the game and a new resiliency. They are not “back,” but rather, they are arriving.

•   The game could have gone very differently, though, had a first period goal from Jonathan Toews counted. After Jordan Binnington gifted Toews the puck in front of the net, Toews scored what was supposed to be his first goal of the season, ending a 19-game drought to begin the year. Instead, prior to the goal, Patrick Kane was ruled offsides on the play and the goal did not count. It would have made it a 1-1 game mid-way through the first period, but instead, the Blues were able to score a second goal in the opening 20 minutes and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Clearly, the disallowed goal and the way the rest of the game went for Toews hung over him.

•   20 games without a goal to begin the season for Toews, continuing his career-long drought. He is one of 42 forwards in the NHL to play at least ten games this season and not score a goal. He has the most points of those 42 forwards with nine assists on the year. He has also taken 35 shots this year without a goal, tied for the most of those 42 skaters with Toronto’s Nick Ritchie. The guy just needs a freakin’ bounce.

•   After falling behind 0-2 and having what could have been a momentous goal taken away. The Blackhawks could have withered away last night. Instead, early in the second period, they found their first sign of life thanks to Jujhar Khaira.

•   Khaira’s second goal of the season cut the St. Louis lead in half. It would stay that way through the second period and most of the third period. Chicago was out-shot 16-10 in the opening frame last night, but out-shot the Blues 16-8 over the final two periods of play, including a 10-2 advantage in the third period. It all led to the game-tying goal coming from red-hot Brandon Hagel.

•   With three-straight games with a goal since returning from injury, the second-year forward is now second on the team in goals this season with seven.

•   So hot right now.

•   Chicago would take Hagel’s game-tying goal and do themselves one better, forcing overtime where the top three point-producers on the team hooked up for the third unanswered goal and the game-winner in overtime.

•   Expect anything different?

•   DeBrincat scored the game-winner with his team-leading 12th goal of the season. It was assisted by Patrick Kane with his team-leading 18th point of the year, and by Seth Jones with his team-leading 15th assist this year.

•   With the win last night, the Blackhawks are now 7-11-2 on the season. They still have a long way to go before reaching their preseason expectations. But at 6-2-0 under interim head coach Derek King, these Blackhawks are finding a new way to play and a new way to win games.

•   At the beginning of the second period Jake McCabe was forced to answer for a hit he put on David Perron in the first period of the game. The hit itself was borderline, but it looked as if McCabe landed shoulder-to-shoulder with Perron initially, but the force of the impact led McCabe’s should to continue upwards and hit Perron in the head. He didn’t return to the game. While he didn’t win the fight against Brayden Schenn, the Blackhawks seemingly fed off the energy of the scrap and scored the first of their three unanswered goals within seconds after play resumed.

•   Following the game, McCabe, who has seen some stuff having played his entire career before coming to Chicago with the Buffalo Sabres, talked about the urgency and desperation in the locker room that had seemingly been missing from the team early in the year.

•   It was a performance that wasn’t pretty. Most of the wins under Derek King haven’t been. But coming away with 12 of a possible 16 points in their last eight games is exactly what this Blackhawks team needed.

•   At 7-11-2, they are far from “back.” They still sit in the bottom-third of the league, but are clearly heading in the right direction.

•   One of the biggest struggles since King took over has been Chicago’s powerplay. Once one of their best attributes, Chicago went 0-for-3 last night and have not scored on their last 11 powerplay opportunities. They are just 1-for-28 over their last ten games.

•   If/when the powerplay returns to its previous success-rate, the Blackhawks could find themselves inching even closer to Stanley Cup Playoff contention. They sit currently six points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

•   “Winning cures everything.” So it seems.

•   Of course, the Blackhawks fans in attendance last night had to get their chance to join in on the craze sweeping the nation…chanting “Fire Nagy.”

•   Hey, it worked for the Blackhawks, I guess it could work for the Bears?

•   Yesterday, Chicago placed forward Adam Gaudette on waivers.

•   Gaudette, who came to Chicago at the trade deadline last season and signed a one-year extension this offseason, has skated in just eight of Chicago’s 20 games this season. He has one goal and one assist in his eight appearances.

•   We will find out this afternoon whether he will be headed to the Rockford IceHogs, or have been claimed by another NHL club.

•   You can learn a bit more about Gaudette’s situation in Scott Powers’ latest on The Athletic. You can also learn about the first time Brandon Saad was traded from the Blackhawks and how it almost didn’t even need to happen…

 

•   Let the idea of a Blackhawks squad with Brandon Saad and Artemiy Panarin on it marinate with you for a minute.

•   Yesterday, the San Jose Sharks announced that General Manager Doug Wilson would be taking a leave from the team for medical reasons. Wilson was just recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame along with fellow former Blackhawk Marian Hossa.

•   Here is to hoping for a speedy and full recovery for Wilson from whatever is ailing him.

•   Alex Ovechkin is ageless. At 36-years-old, he is second in the NHL in goals, tied for third in the NHL in assists, and tied for second in the NHL for points with Connor McDavid all after his hat-trick performance last night.

•   He joined former Blackhawk Bobby Hull and Marcel Dionne for the sixth-most hat-tricks in NHL history with his performance last night in the Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Panthers.

•   No better way to celebrate a hat-trick than with your kids right on the glass. Incredible shot here.

•   Ovechkin has 748 goals for his career now, 18 away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third all-time in NHL history and he’ll likely do it in nearly 500 fewer games played.

•   Artemiy Panarin is my hero.

•   We don’t know what was said that led to him chucking his glove at Brad Marchand, and honestly, who cares what the reason is? Do you ever need a reason to throw your glove at Marchand? No, no you don’t.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all enjoy your Saturday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.