It was another first period in which the shots weren’t really there.
The Blackhawks have talked about shooting more, talked about getting away from waiting for the perfect opportunity to open up, but it was still absent through the first 20 minutes on Thursday night.
They turned talk into action by the second period.
Artem Anisimov scored his 10th goal of the season and Marian Hossa had the overtime winner as the Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Thursday night. The Blackhawks are now 3-0-1 without Jonathan Toews, who missed his fourth consecutive game with that upper-body injury sustained against the San Jose Sharks last week. Toews, as of Thursday morning, was also doubtful for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia.
“When they’re ready to play, they’re ready to play,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every player’s different but they’ll tell you when it’s time and you know when they’re able and ready to go. But we wouldn’t put anybody out there who isn’t ready. In Jonny’s case we’ll make sure he’s clear – in a lot of ways.”
Corey Crawford stopped 30 of 33 shots for the victory. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger each scored for the Blackhawks and Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith each had two assists.
The Blackhawks’ second period was more of what they’ve been looking for this season, especially lately: just shooting, driving the net and seeing what comes out of it. On Thursday three goals came out of it.
“Yeah, we talked about going into the game that lately we need more of a net-front presence and have to put more pucks at the net,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we were much better in the second period, much better in the last half of the first period to get ourselves in the game. Crow made some big saves early, really kept them in our end there the first 5-10 minutes when were were in a lot of trouble. We got our game going and we were much more effective the rest of the way. But you don’t score in this league when the goalies see the pucks.”
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
Devils goaltender Cory Schneider wasn’t seeing any pucks in the first few minutes of the first period. The Blackhawks were too busy trying to defend and clear against an energetic group of Devils, and they weren’t succeeding at it. The fact that the Devils only got one goal in those frantic early minutes – the first of Travis Zajac’s three on the night – was a credit to how good Crawford was again.
“Yeah. It was a rough start. I think they came out flying, played really good hockey and we were kind of standing on our heels a little bit,” Hjalmarsson said. “Crow kept us in the game and then I think we kind of started to grow and play better and better. As we’ve been doing as of late, we found a way to get it to overtime and get two important points.”
Yes, they did, and rather quickly. Kruger scored just 62 seconds into the second period, with Anisimov and Hjalmarsson adding their goals later. Hjalmarsson’s came not long after a bad turnover at the other end led to Zajac’s second goal of the night.
“I definitely owed the team that,” Hjalmarsson said. “That was a bad giveaway.”
After Zajac’s third forced overtime, it didn’t seem to be a surprise that Hossa had the final say once again. His 12th goal of the season was also his fourth game winner this season.
“[Patrick Kane] took the puck and just gave it to me at the blue line. I tried to hold, see my options and I didn’t see anything and I tried to shoot through the screen,” Hossa said. “I don’t think the goalie saw much. It wasn’t a hard shot, but I think I just tried to shoot it at the net.”
The Blackhawks found a way once again. With Toews out, it’s all about getting points any way possible. One way or another they’re doing it, and on Thursday, getting more pucks to the net was beneficial.
“During the intermission we [talked about] putting pucks on the net because we know there's a good goalie on the other side,” Kruger said. “I think we did a good job, from that being in traffic and putting pucks on net.”