DETROIT – The Blackhawks will watch the standings plenty over these final few weeks of the regular season. But as coach Joel Quenneville pointed out on Wednesday morning, the Blackhawks’ priority was focusing on their business.
And on Wednesday night, there was no doubt they were honed in against the Detroit Red Wings. For the second consecutive game the Blackhawks played good, strong hockey. They’re clicking at the right time, and they could be getting Marian Hossa (lower body) back within the week.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory over the Red Wings.
1. Corey Crawford’s all-around great day. About two hours before Crawford faced the Red Wings he was named to Team Canada for this fall’s World Cup of Hockey. Then he went out and had another stellar evening, stopping 31 of 33 shots. Crawford collected his career-high 34th victory, topping the mark he set back in 2010-11. Coach Joel Quenneville said he looks forward to seeing Crawford on Team Canada this fall, and that Crawford was “very instrumental with us winning [tonight] with that second-period performance.”
2. A pretty good debut. Christian Ehrhoff got into his first game with the Blackhawks and he had a nice outing. Ehrhoff, who teamed with Trevor van Riemsdyk, just missed on a scoring chance in the first period but brought a solid, all-around game for the Blackhawks. The veteran played just over 17 minutes and tied Jonathan Toews with a game-high four shots on goal. Ehrhoff was hoping he would fit in with his new team. Wednesday’s game was a good start.
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3. Power play capitalizes. The Blackhawks didn’t get their first power plays until late in the second period but they didn’t mess around once they got them. Artemi Panarin scored a 5-on-3 goal off a perfect pass from Patrick Kane, then Kane followed up one minute, 26 seconds later, off a Brent Seabrook keep, to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-0.
4. Brent Seabrook’s big night. When the defenseman is good, he is very good. And he had a very productive game on Wednesday night, finishing with a goal and two assists – he was originally credited with a third assist, but that was later taken away. Seabrook doesn’t get the attention of Duncan Keith but he’s had a great season, and that continued on Wednesday.
5. Oh, and the same goes for Artemi Panarin. Two of the league’s top rookies (Dylan Larkin of Detroit) were featured in this one, with Panarin having the very productive night. He scored twice, both off Patrick Kane feeds, in another outstanding outing for the Russian forward. Panarin now has 24 goals this season. Quenneville said, “I think everyone likes the kid and he’s only growing in what he brings to our team.”