The Blackhawks have done some good things and have gotten points in this early season. The complete game, however, has eluded them.
They got as close as they have all year to that on Sunday night.
Corey Crawford stopped all 32 shots he saw for his first shutout of the season and Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at the United Center.
Marian Hossa, who was honored prior to the game for his 500th career goal, recorded a goal and an assist. Toews added an assist. Artem Anisimov scored his sixth goal of the season and is now on a career-best, seven-game point streak. The Blackhawks have now won three of their last four games, and Sunday got the familiar parts of their game working again. Puck possession, a successful penalty kill (2-for-2) and more balance on the lines, it was all there.
“This was, so far, more complete in what we gave up in all areas of our game were solid,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a really good rotation of our lines, our [defense] moving and skating and the puck way more. Much better, more representative of how we need to play.”
Toews’ goal, a power-play effort which proved to be the game-winner, was a weight off the captain’s shoulders.
“Oh, for sure,” he said. “You know the No. 1 thing too was getting the chances. It felt like we had a lot of shots. Nothing to show for 5-on-5 with [Patrick Kane] and Panik, Richard. We’re playing better there and you know it’s only improving. I think it’s just about the chances. It’s nice to feel comfortable shooting that puck finally, getting through traffic, seeing one go in and hopefully we’ll keep going and getting that confidence that comes with it.”
Crawford, who has played rather well all season, recorded the 20th shutout of his career. He was busier at the end, stopping 13 third-period shots from the Kings.
“I felt great,” Crawford said. “I thought that was our best game defensively. We didn’t give up too many chances inside, for scoring chances. Our [defensemen] were awesome moving the puck, getting in the play. Our PK was solid. That was nice to see we were getting some confidence on that, so that was a good game for us.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks’ confidence may have been as shaken as their puck possession game and penalty kill. There were glimpses in their game against New Jersey on Friday that they were starting to find their way, and they built off that tonight against the Kings. Sure, it’s one game, a small sample size. But for 60 minutes on Sunday the Blackhawks looked like the Blackhawks.
“It was important for us in tonight’s game, in a lot of ways, knowing the conference and the standings,” Quenneville said. “Every day [the standings] are so bunched up that you have to take advantage of home ice and take advantage of a team that played a game the night before.”