OK, we get it: the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane should probably never be broken up again.
Then again, their separation seemed to make for a happy reunion on Sunday night, and it resulted in a lot of points for each player and a 4-2 victory for the Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers. We’re a little under the weather – let’s go with upper body – so let’s get right to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.
1. The second line is great. OK, the quick down note is that all the Blackhawks’ offense is once again coming from just one line. The upside is, it’s one hell of a line to watch. The Blackhawks had 11 points on Sunday; the second line had nine of those (Kane a goal and three assists, Panarin two goals and an assist and Anisimov a goal and an assist). Asked why being with Kane and Anisimov was even better this time around, Panarin – through Viktor Tikhonov – said: “because I scored two goals.”
2. Corey Crawford’s comeback. Crawford went through two really bad games last week. He was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period against New Jersey but coach Joel Quenneville knew he’d go back to his No. 1 goaltender on Sunday vs. the Oilers. Crawford responded the right way, stopping 34 shots, including all 22 in the second period, en route to the victory. Said Crawford, “I wanted to come back strong, especially when your coach gives you the net again. You want to prove him right, do well for him. I felt a lot better.”
3. Marian Hossa fine in his return. Hossa showed no ill effects of the lower-body injury that kept him out for over a week. Hossa was his strong self on the puck, and the penalty he drew in the waning moments – a holding call on Oscar Klefbom – led to Anisimov’s power-play goal late in the game.
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4. Anisimov, too. The second-line center suffered a lower-body injury and missed the third period of the Blackhawks’ loss against New Jersey. But he was back anchoring that ultra-successful line and quietly going about his own goal-scoring business. Anisimov now has six on the season, and his assist on Kane’s goal gave him his 200th career NHL point.
5. The record remains the same. By that we mean the Blackhawks’ current mark of 8-6-1, which was the same record they had through their first 15 games last season. Now there are a lot of differences between this team and that one – this year’s group is much younger, and the Blackhawks still need more than one line scoring. Still, with all the turnover and injuries – Duncan Keith is still out for probably another week – the Blackhawks are doing just fine in the early going.