The Blackhawks’ top line has shown decent glimpses of what it can do. On Thursday it was on full display.
Teuvo Teravainen had two goals and an assist and fellow top liners Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa also had three-point nights as the Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-0, at the United Center. Toews had a goal and two assists, and Hossa finished with three assists. Artemi Panarin added his fourth goal of the season late in regulation.
The Blackhawks, however, might be without Marcus Kruger. The fourth-line center slid hard into the boards in the second period and immediately headed to the bench, favoring his left hand/wrist. He went to the locker room not long after and never returned. Coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that he should know more about Kruger’s status on Friday. He did not know if Kruger’s injury is serious or not.
Corey Crawford stopped all 33 shots he faced for his third shutout in his past four games. Crawford has allowed just four goals in his last six starts. Crawford said his focus and the Blackhawks’ defense were both good on Thursday.
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“My thoughts are our defensive game is strong again, guys who come back for our D, second opportunities,” Crawford said. “We’re getting rid of pucks in front of the net and tying up guys.”
Offensively, it was the top-line show for the Blackhawks. Toews gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 14 minutes into the first period. Teravainen scored his first of the night in the second period, waiting in the slot and firing immediately after getting the pass from Toews.
“Certainly have a lot of upside there and a lot of potential for production. Defensively you know there’s a lot of reliability,” coach Joel Quenneville said of that line. “Nice to see them being a threat off the rush, and they had the puck in the zone as well. It was a dangerous line tonight; nice to see the finish. They’re starting to get more chances and nice to see them go in for once.”
Teravainen scored his second of the night with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, tapping in a rebound near the Oilers net. The young Finn, who looked so hesitant playing with Toews and Hossa earlier this season, has looked more confident since that line was reassembled.
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“We’re getting to know each other better every game and just get the feel for each other, the confidence going,” Teravainen said. “We need a couple of good ones to get us going, and we have to find our confidence and have some fun on the ice. Sometimes we get too angry with ourselves. We have to make good plays, stay patient.”
The Blackhawks were looking for a good rebound game following Tuesday’s all-too-quiet loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Crawford was once again doing his part in net. And the Blackhawks’ top line is becoming the possible force Quenneville envisioned at the start of this season.
“They looked fast out there, made some good plays and were able to finish off a lot of their chances tonight,” Duncan Keith said. “Obviously they’re a huge part of our offense and our team game. When they’re able to capitalize, it makes us that much harder to play against.”