Blackhawks

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Maple Leafs

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime win over Maple Leafs

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night:

1. Auston Matthews snaps point drought.

It had been seven consecutive games that the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 went without recording a point, the longest drought of his young NHL career. He ended that 8:25 into the game by burying a pass from William Nylander for his 32nd of the season, putting Toronto up 1-0.

It was a big goal for the most important player on the Maple Leafs as they continue their quest for a playoff spot. They need him to be on top of his game to have a chance at holding down the No. 2 wild-card position in the Eastern Conference.

2. John Hayden tallies first career NHL goal.

What a week it's been for Hayden. His four-year collegiate career wrapped up at Yale University, he signed his first professional contract, played in his first career NHL game with Jonathan Toews as his linemate, and in his second, scored his first career goal. He made a terrific reception with his skate on a 2-on-1 pass from Toews, then ripped one past Frederik Andersen's glove to tie the game up at 1-1 in the second period. He also registered 15:29 of ice time, a game-high seven hits, and four shots on goal.

Hayden became the seventh Blackhawks player this season to record their first career NHL goal, joining Gustav Forsling, Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza, Michal Kempny, Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz. It's also the first time the Blackhawks have had multiple Illinois-born players (Hayden and Hinostroza) score in the same season since 1998-99 (Eddie Olczyk and Chris Chelios), according to Elias.

3. Ryan Hartman rewarded, scores overtime winner.

Hartman was noticeable all night, and was rewarded for it by getting a late shift in overtime and ending it by faking out Andersen and slipping one five-hole for his 16th goal of the campaign. All 16 of those have come at even strength; only Auston Matthews (27) and Patrik Laine (25) have more.

Hartman finished with a game-high nine shot attempts (six on goal), three hits and was on the ice for 20 shot attempts for and only 10 against at even strength, which was tied for the best Corsi rating on the team.

4. Corey Crawford pitches in on offense.

On Hartman's overtime winner, Crawford registered a secondary assist, the fifth of his career and first this season, making it the fourth straight year he's recorded an assist.

He wasn't too shabby in goal, either. He stopped 25 of 26 shots en route to his third straight victory, and bumped his save percentage to .955 during that streak.

5. Tomas Jurco turns in solid effort in return to lineup.

Marian Hossa participated in morning skate, but was ruled out due to a lower-body injury that Quenneville said he suffered during Thursday's game, and deemed "not serious." Jurco had initially been slotted in on the fourth line, but was promoted to the third in Hossa's spot at right wing along with Hartman and Marcus Kruger.

After being a healthy scratch for three straight games with zero points in his first six games since being acquired by the Blackhawks on Feb. 24, Jurco showed flashes and more consistency against the Maple Leafs. He had 12:09 of ice time, his second-highest total since joining the team, to go along with six shot attempts (three on goal), two hits, and was a team-high plus-10 Corsi.

His best shift came at the beginning of the third period when he generated a flurry of chances, the last one bouncing off a Maple Leafs defender and hit the post.

Patrick Kane believes there's 'chemistry to be built' with Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome

Patrick Kane believes there's 'chemistry to be built' with Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome

All eyes were on No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach during Sunday's game as he made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, but the story leading up to puck drop was where he was going to slot into the lineup.

Would he be broken in as a winger or were the Blackhawks going to slide him into his natural position at center? And if so, where? The answer to the first question was the latter and the second drew excitement among the fanbase when the team ran through line rushes during warmups.

Dach lined up as the second-line center with Patrick Kane at right wing and Dylan Strome moved over to left wing. That's a No. 3 overall pick (Dach) alongside another No. 3 overall pick (Strome) and a No. 1 overall pick (Kane), who's a three-time Stanley Cup champion and Hart Trophy winner.

When the three of them were on the ice together at 5-on-5 against Washington, they had eight shot attempts for and nine against and four scoring chances for and five against in 12:27 of ice time, according to Natural Stat Trick. Not great, but not terrible.

On paper, the trio has some real potential and it's enough for Kane to feel like this could be a line that sticks going forward.

"I thought he played well," Kane said of Dach's debut. "Did some noticeable things where he's hanging onto the puck, big body, he's obviously still a young kid. Pretty raw, but for his first game against a really good team, one of the better teams in the league, I thought he was noticeable, had some good shifts. I think there's some chemistry to be built there. I think we can even be better. Better with him, myself and Strome, we can be better for him." 

Dach said after morning skate that he wasn't sure where he was going to fit into the lineup. But he found out shortly after and spoke after the game about what it was like playing with Kane and Strome.

"It was pretty cool," Dach said. "Obviously grew up watching Kaner play and how successful he's been in his career and Stromer is coming into his own way and how good of a player he is. They made it easy to play with those guys. It was fun. I enjoyed playing with them."

The Blackhawks return to action on Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights, one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and expect the Strome-Dach-Kane line to get another crack together as they look to strengthen their on-ice rapport.

"I look at his game, he's pretty responsible," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Dach. "He doesn't look like a centerman who is going to struggle in his own end. He looks like he knows what he's doing down there. It's not going to be perfect, but there's the opportunity for him to get a lot better really quickly. We'll see how it plays out."

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Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks left wanting more

The Blackhawks were easily the better team at even strength against one of the deepest teams in the NHL. They led in total shot attempts (84-49), shots on goal (44-30), even-strength scoring chances (36-20) and even-strength high-danger chances (16-9), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't pull out a win.

The Blackhawks put up 44 shots on goal against a Capitals team that allowed the second-fewest shots per game (27.8) going into the matchup. They deserved a better fate.

"I think we dictated most of the play tonight and we weren't rewarded for it, but that's the way hockey works sometimes," Drake Caggiula said. "You don't always get the bounces, you don't always get the results you're looking for, even if you play the prototypical game or the perfect game. We didn't get rewarded tonight but this is something we can build off of heading into the next one."

2. Kirby Dach's NHL debut

After being sidelined for the first week of training camp and working his way back from a concussion, the Blackhawks' No. 3 overall pick finally made his much-anticipated NHL debut. And he held his own.

Dach centered the second line with Dylan Strome playing left wing and Patrick Kane in his usual spot at right wing. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and went 1-for-5 at the faceoff circle in 13:41 of ice time. His only noticeable blemish was not picking up Alex Ovechkin in time before he rifled a shot past Corey Crawford.

"Obviously you want to win in your first game in and help the team that way, but I felt good out there," Dach said. "But at the same time, there's things I can clean up in my game to kind of help the team moving forward."

3. Special teams is the difference

The reason the Blackhawks lost this game was their lack of success on special teams. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, which included a four-minute double minor in the second period.

It was unfortunate because the Capitals entered Sunday's matchup with a +11 goal differential and +44 shot differential in the second period and a -5 goal differential and -13 shot differential in the first and third periods combined, but the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize in the middle frame even thought they outshot them 15-9. Caggiula's goal was negated just 1:28 after by Nic Down.

"You can look at in the second there, we had a lot of momentum, give up a shorthanded goal, so we gotta be better in that department," Kane said. "We also gotta be better on the power play. Comes down to things like that, but good team and I thought we had a pretty good effort overall tonight."

4. Third line stands out again

The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad continues to be the driving force on offense for the Blackhawks, especially when it comes to possession. They were on the ice for 22 shot attempts for and nine against, 14 scoring chances for and four against, six high-danger chances for and one against, and one goal for and zero against in 9:07 of 5-on-5 ice time. 

Kubalik led the charge with 14 shot attempts (10 on goal) and scored a greasy goal to pull the Blackhawks within one in the third period. Kane evened it up shortly after. 

"Turned the game for us," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kubalik's goal. "I think we were playing well, but they just took it to another level. Not only did they score, but it was an explosive shift there. And it wasn't the only good shift they had, but it really gave us momentum. They've been good."

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