Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 8-7 win over the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on Monday:
1. So, about that start...
If you were late getting to the game or flipping on the TV, you didn't miss much. Except maybe the wildest first period in recent memory.
The Blackhawks scored five goals on 15 shots for a shooting percentage of 33.3. The Senators scored four goals on 16 shots for a shooting percentage of 25.0. That's nine total goals on 31 shots.
Both goaltenders were pulled before the period ended, with Collin Delia (three goals allowed on 10 shots) being replaced for Cam Ward and former Blackhawks netminder Anders Nilsson (four goals allowed on 12 shots) being removed for Chicago native Craig Anderson.
Going into the game, the Blackhawks and Senators were tied for dead last with a goals against per game average of 3.64. So a high-scoring affair was expected. But not like this. This was as weird as it gets.
"Man, I think that’s probably what you would identify as a goalie nightmare, for both sides," Ward said. "That’s pretty crazy, to be honest with you. Obviously, the two points at the end of the night are the most important thing. But at the same time, we realize we can’t play like that if we want to be successful. But you take it for what it’s worth. The fans got the full value of their ticket tonight and it is what it is."
2. Slowing it down ... sort of
Things slowed down a little bit in the second period. Sort of. There weren't nine goals this time, but there was certainly action.
The Senators scored 1:32 into the middle frame to tie it up at 5-5, and you could almost hear the 22,338 fans sigh: "Here we go again." But the Blackhawks responded with a pair of goals in a span of 2:12 later on in the frame to put themselves up 7-5. And it turned out to be as close to a turning point as you can get in a back-and-forth game like this.
"It was a pretty crazy game," Alex DeBrincat said. "It felt more like a summer hockey game with that high scoring. It's good we got the win. That's all that matters. Move on from here."
3. Multi-point games for everyone
With an offensive explosion comes a loaded scoresheet.
Six Blackhawks had multi-point efforts: Alex DeBrincat (three goals, two assists), Patrick Kane (one goal, two assists), Duncan Keith (two assists), Brandon Saad (one goal, one assist), Dylan Strome (one goal, two assists) and Jonathan Toews (one goal, one assist).
Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, breaking the new mark for longest point streak by an NHL player this season. He also extended his assist streak to 17 games; Wayne Gretzky holds the all-time record at 23 games, set in 1990-91.
DeBrincat netted his fourth career NHL hat trick, and first career five-point games. With a three-goal game, he went from 17th to eighth among league leaders.
"I've seen him score a lot of goals," Strome said of DeBrincat. "He's obviously playing great hockey right now. He's doing a lot of great things. Really fun to play with obviously. Any time you get him the puck it's a one-timer or it's in. I said this a long time ago when people asked me, 'How do you think he's going to do in the NHL?' And I said, 'Really good.' We're having fun. Hockey is fun."
4. Defensive efforts
Fifteen goals were scored between the Blackhawks and Senators. Both goalies were pulled. There was a hat trick. It seemingly had everything.
But high-scoring affairs like this are a coach's nightmare. And it sure was.
There were 70 combined scoring chances (59 at 5-on-5) and 36 high-danger chances (32 at 5-on-5), according to naturalstattrick.com. That will unquestionably be the first thing they look at when reviewing the game tape.
"Didn't particularly enjoy it back there," coach Jeremy Colliton said from his vantage point. "If I was a player I probably would have. But it was important that we got the win. You don't want to be looking back at these games and wondering what if.
"It wasn't pretty defensively. Some nice goals and some high-end skills on both sides. We need the points, the most important thing is the points. Good news is we won when maybe we didn't have our best effort. So hopefully we'll respond with a better one with our next one."
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