DENVER – The Blackhawks are back, and they erased some bad pre-All-Star-break feelings with a victory on Tuesday night.
They knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game; missing Jonathan Toews didn’t help. But they got just enough offense and kept the Colorado Avalanche from finding an equalizer in the third period. So before we head to a warmer climate, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over Colorado.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
1. Making up for the Toews loss. It’s not easy playing without the captain but everybody chipped in. Teuvo Teravainen was just fine as the Blackhawks’ top-line center. The Blackhawks had a ton of puck-possession time, keeping the Avs to just eight shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. If there’s one thing the Blackhawks have done well over the last few seasons, it’s their finding ways to win without a key member of their team. They did it again on Tuesday.
2. Richard Panik is back in good graces. The best way to make coach Joel Quenneville happy is to play strong hockey, and Panik did that on Tuesday night. He took advantage of his few first-period shifts on the top line, giving the Blackhawks an early 1-0 lead with his third goal this season. Panik drew Quenneville’s ire before the break when he slept through a morning skate. That’s in the past. If Panik keeps playing like he did on Tuesday night, he’ll keep getting more opportunities.
3. Corey Crawford good when necessary. There were probably times when Crawford got lonely at his end of the ice on Tuesday. The Avs didn’t have many shots through the first 40 minutes. But when they came at him with a flurry, Crawford was up to task. He stopped five shots in quick succession to start the third; the Avs had 15 shots in that final period, seven more than they had the first two. In the past, Crawford has sometimes struggled in games where he didn’t get consistent shots. He didn’t on Tuesday.
4. The Artemi Panarin-Patrick Kane connection. As Panarin reminded us on Tuesday, these two have had chemistry since, really, their first games together. It was on display again in the first period, when Kane’s pass along the boards found Panarin, who did the rest in scoring the game-winning goal.
5. Having a decent face-off night. No Toews means the Blackhawks miss a few things, including a strong face-off presence. But it was another collective effort there for the Blackhawks, who did all right in that department (won 27, lost 32). Phillip Danault had the best night in this category winning 10 of his 14 draws. Every little bit helps.