Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen


Five Things from Game 2: Big minutes from big defensemen

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Overtime games: they are not for the faint of heart.

Sometimes they drag, each team so afraid to make a mistake that each plays very cautious. Other times they’re riveting, as Tuesday night’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks was. But as the Blackhawks have done often in the past, they found a way to win a lengthy game. So before we call it a morning, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 triple-overtime victory.

[MORE: Blackhawks outlast Ducks in longest game in franchise history]

1. Don’t be pretty; just be there. It’s overtime: nobody is going to score a gorgeous goal. At least the odds aren’t in your favor. And despite the fact that he’s not known for a lot of scoring, there was something very appropriate about Marcus Kruger getting the game-winner. It was the type of goal that a blue-collar player would score, right near the net, with the puck hitting off his glove and then off his stick, and he did.

2. Well, at least he used his head. Following the game, Andrew Shaw could laugh about his disallowed head-directed goal from the second overtime. Still, it was humorous to see. Turns out, there are two NHL rules that say you can’t do that — hey, if you’re going to score a disallowed goal, get every nullification you can get. Said Shaw, “everyone’s always telling you to use your head when you’re out there. I just went and did that.”

3. Tremendous night for Corey Crawford. It was a goaltender’s night, regardless of team. But what an outing for Crawford, who stopped a career-best 60 of 62 shots he faced. The Ducks hit a few crossbars in the third period and overtimes, but Crawford got just about everything else. Said Crawford about some of those close calls, “there’s no real time to really think about [that]. Maybe when the play stops. It’s coming back again, so quick. I wasn’t really thinking. There were a few I thought might have trickled in but I don’t know. It’s a good win.”

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4. Big minutes for big defensemen. OK, it was a triple-overtime game, so the time-on-ice for some was going to be staggering. The Blackhawks’ top four defensemen played 46 minutes (Johnny Oduya) to nearly 50 (Duncan Keith). That’s a lot and not surprising, given the lengthy game and how much we knew the Blackhawks would rely on those two with defensive changes. Coach Joel Quenneville, immediately after the game, wasn’t concerned. “One of those games the minutes look skewed, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s a good test. But I think our team’s gone through that more than once and [will be] ready to get right back at it.”

5. Ducks bring the hit parade. The Ducks — again, a big number for a long game — were credited with 71 hits in Game 2. Their physical game was especially evident in the second period, when they were hitting everything in a Blackhawks uniform. Kimmo Timonen felt the brunt of several big hits. How will these hits affect the Blackhawks, especially those top four defensemen, as this series continues? That remains to be seen.

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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