The Blackhawks cruised past the Calgary Flames 5-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.
Here are 10 observations from the win:
1. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was a late scratch due to a non-COVID illness. It's the second time he's missed a game this season because of an illness. The Blackhawks were shut out by New Jersey 3-0 on Dec. 6 in the first game without Toews, but it was much different this time around.
2. Over the previous three games, the Blackhawks' shot totals were 18, 19 and 14, respectively. In this game, the Blackhawks recorded 10 shots on goal in the first period alone — 29 total — and scored the first goal for the 10th time in the last 13 games. They needed a start like that, although they probably would like to redo the final minute.
3. The Flames evened things up at 1-1 with 28 seconds left in the first period, just 1:45 after Chicago put itself on the board. Those late-period goals have been a common theme for the Blackhawks this season. It was also the ninth time this season they gave up a goal within two minutes of taking the lead. Not ideal.
4. The game turned in the second period, where the Blackhawks scored three unanswered goals, including two in a span of 32 seconds. The Flames did not look like themselves. It was a sleepy start for them and they didn't look much better in the middle frame either.
5. The Blackhawks got a goal from every line, and all 11 forwards recorded a point except for Reese Johnson, who came inches away from scoring an empty-netter to make it 12-for-12. Depth scoring is a major reason they've won seven of their last 10 games.
6. How did Boris Katchouk take advantage of returning to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 3 after being a healthy scratch for nine straight games? By scoring a goal, of course. It was his second of the season, which also ties a career-high. That had to feel good. The fourth line, overall, was terrific, and I imagine that should be enough for him to stay in the rotation against Edmonton on Saturday.
7. Colin Blackwell had his best game of the season, and legitimately could've had a hat trick. He was robbed twice by Jacob Markstrom, once early in the first period and another in the second, and then hit the post in the third period. He did set up Sam Lafferty for a nice goal, so at least he got his primary assist. But Blackwell will probably be lying awake at night wondering how the heck he didn't find the back of the net at least once. Here's a look at all the emotions he felt:
8. I thought Patrick Kane had a really solid game, highlighted by the zone entry on the Katchouk goal and his two backhand saucer passes, one to Andreas Athanasiou that led to a scoring chance and the other that ended with a Jason Dickinson goal. Vintage 88.
9. Jaxson Stauber made his second career NHL start, and he turned aside 34 of 35 shots for a save percentage of .971 to pick up another victory. He's the first Blackhawks goaltender to win his first two starts since Gilles Meloche did so in 1971. What a start to his career.
10. Taylor Raddysh scored his 13th goal of the season, which is tied for second on the team and trails only Max Domi (14) for first. At the beginning of the season, I picked Raddysh as my breakout player and predicted a potential 25-goal, 45-point campaign from him. He's on pace for 22 goals and 37 points.
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