It was “rivalry night” at the United Center and the Blackhawks got exactly what every struggling team wants: a red hot opponent coming in on a six-game win streak.
The Rangers came in riding a stretch of strong play and got on the board first when Mika Zibanejad scored his ninth of the year. Chicago had two empty power plays in the first but successfully killed a John Hayden double minor late in the period to grab some momentum.
New York held an 11-9 shot advantage through 20. The Blackhawks looked like crap for most of the period, giving the puck away way too often and not completing simple plays.
Chicago came out of the dressing room for the second period with a purpose that was absent in the first. The line of Nick Schmaltz (who was terrible in the first), Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane had a few good shifts but couldn’t convert; Kane had one good look hit a post.
As the announcement of one minute remaining in the second period echoed through the United Center, Alex DeBrincat got Chicago on the board.
How that shot got through Henrik Lundqvist is a mystery; New York’s netminder had a magnificent second period. The Hawks out-shot the Rangers 16-8 in the second.
When the third period began, the Blackhawks must have been reminded that good things happen when you park someone in front of the net.
Because the Hawks got to the front of the net. And they scored goals.
Artem Anisimov scored his seventh of the year 67 seconds into the third to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
John Hayden scored his second of the year 46 seconds later to extend the Hawks lead to 3-1.
And on a power play, Anisimov scored his second of the night and eighth of the season to make the score 4-1 in favor of the home team.
The three goals came over a span of 4:07 on the clock and stunned Lundqvist, who had been stellar. Ondrej Pavalec replaced Lundqvist with 13:30 left in the third after Chicago scored three times on nine shots to open the period.
Immediately following the change in net, the Rangers whacked a puck out from under Corey Crawford and into the net but the official ruled no goal and play continued.
A loos puck found Kevin Hayes beside an open cage and he scored against the team that drafted him in 2010 to bring the Rangers back to within two.
On the next shot Crawford faced – 3:48 later – Rick Nash cut the lead to one and the Blackhawks were once again showing an allergic reaction to a comfortable lead.
Gustav Forsling had a really good game and saved a would-be game-tying goal from David Desharnais with five minutes left in regulation; he was also a big part of the Hawks killing off the four-minute Rangers advantage in the first.
After a back-and-forth flurry, Anisimov finished off his first career hat trick at 16:12 to push the lead back to two.
Schmaltz had assists on all three of Anisimov’s goals.
New York pulled Pavalec and Jonathan Toews scored into the empty net with 90 seconds left in regulation to make the score 6-3.
When the final horn sounded, the Blackhawks had scored five times in the third period to emerge with a desperately needed home victory. And while the defense still leaves a lot to be desired, the Hawks have now scored 11 goals in regulation over their last two games.
Cody Franson, Duncan Keith and Richard Panik had two assists each; Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane had one helper each as well. Franson and Anisimov led Chicago with five shots on net each.
Crawford stopped 25 of 28 to earn the victory.
Schmaltz skated 19:06 and won four of six faceoffs with his three assists. Anisimov won eight of 17 at the dot with his three goals.
Toews won 12 of 18 at the dot with three takeaways and his fifth goal of the season at the end.
Seabrook had the lowest ice time (16:26) on the Hawks’ blue line but was credited with four shots on net, two hits and two blocked shots.
Ryan Hartman and Connor Murphy led the Hawks with five hits each. Murphy and Franson had a team-leading three blocks each as well.