Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on Tuesday:
1. Brandon Saad's breakout game
After turning in one of his best efforts of the season on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks rewarded Saad with a promotion to the top-six again. And he took advantage of that opportunity.
In the first period alone, Saad recorded four shots on goal, scored his first of the season on the power play, drew a penalty and had a takeaway in 7:42 of ice time, which led all forwards. He finished with nine shot attempts (a season-high seven on goal) and 18:56 of ice time.
On his power-play goal, Saad battled for position in front of the net, called for the puck and scored on his second effort. He did all the right things and got rewarded, including on the empty-netter that sealed the victory.
"I've had some chances, especially as of late," Saad said. "But it's definitely nice for them to get in and get a win on top of that."
Said coach Joel Quenneville: "He was excellent tonight. ... I thought he had great speed all over the ice, had the puck way more. We’re happy for him. Big factor in the win."
2. Erik Gustafsson's slap-pass becoming a thing
For the second time this season, Gustafsson contributed to a game-winning goal that involved a fake shot and slap-pass from the point. Patrick Kane was the recipient of the cross-ice pass and buried home the one-timer from the right faceoff circle
"I can’t score by myself, so it’s better to pass it," Gustafsson joked. "No, I know Kaner is out there. He’s always getting open when someone else has the puck so it’s easy to find him and there was one guy in front of me so I wanted to pass it."
3. Blackhawks cut down on high-danger chances
On Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks allowed 25 high-danger chances at even strength. It put them at the very bottom of the league for most on average per game, ironically falling below Anaheim.
Through two periods on Tuesday, the Blackhawks allowed zero and only five at 5-on-5 for the entire game. Certainly a 180 from two nights ago, and an area they will continue to build upon.
"We just took away those quality chances," said Corey Crawford, who made 24 saves and picked up his first win at home since Dec. 17, 2017. "I don't think they really had too many where they had time in front of the net to really think about where they wanted to shoot and our guys were on the right away in the middle of the ice and that'll give you a great chance to win a hockey game."
4. Special teams battle
There were a total of 20 penalty minutes (10 for Anaheim, 10 for Chicago), which meant lots of power play opportunities and not as much even-strength time.
The Blackhawks had four of them in the first period, and converted on the second try when Saad scored his first of the season. The penalty killed went 4-for-4, allowing a combined eight combined shots on goal but limiting the quality chances.