ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks had to reconfigure some lines with Jonathan Toews missing Friday’s game with an upper-body injury. But the loss of Toews goes way beyond who’s playing with who.
Still, this isn’t the first time the Blackhawks have had to pull together with a top player out, and it’s not the first time they’ve won with a top player out. Maybe it helped that they were in Anaheim, where they’ve done very well in this post-Thanksgiving matchup. But getting an early lead helped en route to their 3-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday.
But we’re stalling, aren’t we? Blame the tryptophan. Anyway, before we wrap up this Circus Trip tomorrow in Los Angeles, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory on Friday.
1. Second line becomes the top line. With Toews out, you knew the onus was going to fall on Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. The trio looked better in this one – Anisimov figured their timing would be better in their second game together – and all three got on the score sheet (Kane a goal and assist, Anisimov goal and Panarin assist).
2. Secondary goal proves pivotal. The Blackhawks will take scoring from anyone but getting something from the third and fourth lines is always encouraged. Ryan Hartman provided that on Friday, scoring what would be the game-winning goal late in the second period. Give credit to Hartman, he played well on Friday, aggravating some of the Ducks – “I’ll say he has a little Shawzy [Andrew Shaw] in him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. He also has been producing, scoring his third goal on this road trip.
3. Bad faceoff day. Toews is, by far, the Blackhawks’ best faceoff man this season. So it was no great surprise that, in his absence, the Blackhawks were throttled at the dot. They won just 18 face-offs against the Ducks, who won 49. as Quenneville said, considering how many times they lost draws, he was happy with the Blackhawks not giving up a ton of quality opportunities until later.
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4. Corey Crawford rebounds. Crawford didn’t have his best stuff against Edmonton and gave up a bad one against San Jose. But he looked more like himself on Friday, stopping 34 of 36 shots. Crawford has found much success against the Ducks in his career; including Friday’s outing, he’s now 12-4-2 against them.
5. A great elixir. The Blackhawks needed to build off that game against the Sharks, which was actually a pretty good one. So nothing like this Black Friday game in Anaheim, which has been good to them for several seasons. Dating back to 2010, the Blackhawks have now won all five of these games against the Ducks.