CALGARY, Alberta — The Blackhawks aren’t in the position to look for style points right now. Any points will do.
On Saturday they got a critical two points with their 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Again, it’s not a game the Blackhawks will keep for posterity’s sake. But they’ll take it nonetheless. Now before we head to Vancouver, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Flames.
1. Scott Darling is excellent. The Blackhawks have leaned on their goaltending plenty of times this season, and Saturday was another example of that. The Flames were getting some good opportunities on Darling. But outside of Dougie Hamilton’s second-period goal, Darling was outstanding in stopping 31 of 32 shots.
2. Andrew Shaw is on a roll. Shaw took an unnecessary slashing penalty in the second period, when the Blackhawks were losing their cool and committing a few infractions. But Shaw made up for his penalty by scoring the go-ahead goal with 49 seconds left in the second period. That’s three goals in as many games for Shaw. As coach Joel Quenneville said, Shaw may have taken a bad penalty there, “but certainly he knows where the net is and he brings that energy and tenaciousness that we need right now and got rewarded.”
3. Marcus Kruger returns. The center played his first game since mid-December, logging 13:38 minutes of ice time. He only took four face-offs (he won two, lost two), likely because he’s easing things back with that surgically repaired wrist — “I didn’t take as many as usual, so hopefully I can do more tomorrow,” he said. But Kruger brought good defense and helped put that fourth line (with Andrew Desjardins and Shaw) together again.
4. Andrew Ladd’s big night. We’re guessing he’s very thankful for that errant T.J. Brodie pass that led to his first goal of the night but Ladd had a very night evening overall. “I thought he had a great game,” Quenneville said. “He did a lot of good things, made a nice play on the empty-net goal as well. I thought he had good puck possession and pursuit tonight and got rewarded with a couple of sharp plays.”
5. Points, glorious points. The Blackhawks needed these in the worst way. They still don’t have much breathing room between them and the Nashville Predators but the points keep them in third and give them some confidence at a time they need it.