As Artem Anisimov’s power-play rebound found its way into the Philadelphia Flyers net on Wednesday night the United Center erupted, drowning out the sound of the massive burden dropping from the Blackhawks’ shoulders.
“It’s the big weight lifted off your shoulders,” said Cody Franson, whose shot led to that goal. “Guys are a little more relaxed, getting back to what made us successful.”
This big reaction off one goal may seem overblown, and perhaps in hindsight it’ll be considered as such. But for a Blackhawks team that was struggling to score in pretty much any fashion but especially on the power play, Wednesday night’s 3-0 victory was a relief.
They snapped an 0-for-18 power-play slump and it led to more fast, with Jonathan Toews scoring just 20 seconds after Anisimov. Power-play troubles snapped, losing streak snapped, a big wave of frustration snapped.
‘It’s more relief. Something dropped from our shoulders when we scored that goal,” said Anisimov, who scored his third goal in as many games. “We just need to keep building off that. Just play simple, like that play. Pass over, shoot, rebound. Easy, you know?”
Anisimov laughed after saying that but the mood was definitely lighter on Wednesday night. It was a heavy early week for the Blackhawks, who were coming off a three-game losing streak and an angry close-of-practice talk from coach Joel Quenneville on Tuesday.
“I think it was a little bit of everything. Our first couple of power plays had some decent looks and [we did] the right thing on that one: get it to the net, traffic, get the rebound and get rewarded,” Quenneville said. “We obviously needed a power-play goal and that helped a little bit of confidence as we went along offensively.”
The Blackhawks didn’t do a complete 180 off their latest batch of games on Wednesday. They still gave up a lot of quality chances – credit Corey Crawford, whose 35-stop performance ensured that Anisimov’s goal would be the winning one. But the Blackhawks needed a positive. They needed a spark. They needed a power-play goal. Weights lifted.
“With this group, we never really freak out. We don’t lose our mind. It’s early in the season. You want to gain ground but you don’t want to create something that’s not really there,” said Corey Crawford, whose 35-stop performance made that power-play goal the game winner. “You’ve just come back and keep playing. you gotta stick with it. You can’t let a streak like that affect you and make it worse. We’re fine, we know how to play hockey, and we’ve just gotta keep going.”