NEW YORK – Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
Seriously, every now and then you need a topsy-turvy game. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t to thrilled at the start of that one but he’ll take the end, as the Blackhawks got past a 2-0 deficit to beat the New York Islanders 5-4 on Thursday night.
That wraps up another New York trip. While we lament leaving this fabulous city, let’s look at Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks’ latest victory.
1. Defense optional. Six goals in the first period? What parallel universe is this? Scott Darling and the Blackhawks had allowed three goals in the last three games. They gave up that many in the first period on Thursday night. Granted, the Blackhawks were in as much of a receiving mood as a giving one through the first 20 minutes. But in light of the Blackhawks’ recent games, what they gave up was surprising.
2. The power play is potent again. You wonder if the Islanders winced when Josh Bailey headed to the penalty box with 1:32 remaining in the second period. The Blackhawks had two power-play goals on the night heading into that advantage. A little more than a minute later, they made it 3-for-3. Artemi Panarin had two of those goals with that patented rocket from the left circle.
3. Ryan Hartman’s momentum shifter. The Blackhawks were struggling and down 2-0 when Hartman landed a big open-ice hit on Casey Cizikas in the first period. Cizikas took exception to it and went after Hartman. The Blackhawks rookie let him, drawing a roughing penalty. Less than two minutes later the Blackhawks scored the first of their three power-play goals of the night. Quenneville pointed to that moment as a critical one, giving the Blackhawks much-needed momentum – or at least taking it away from the Islanders. Indeed, the shift was on after that.
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Second line finding its rhythm again? I asked Artem Anisimov that after he, Panarin and Patrick Kane connected on some beautiful passing that led to Anisimov’s power-play goal in the first period. Kane has struggled as of late but Anisimov now has 14 goals and Panarin has 13. Anisimov said the line is better, but still not where it needs to be. “In the power play, yeah, but we still need to do better at the 5-on-5 games,” he said.
5. Winning no matter what. The Blackhawks are winning the defensive-minded games. On Thursday they won the wide-open game. As Quenneville said, “we’ve been fortunate with a lot of games this year.” Sure. But despite all the concerns the Blackhawks had entering this season, the injuries they’ve faced, they’re atop the Western Conference. Most of the time it’s been goaltending. Thursday, it was an offensive outburst. Good teams just find ways.