Less than 24 hours after getting demolished in Toronto, Antti Raanta and the Chicago Blackhawks bounced back with a resounding home victory over the streaking Los Angeles Kings.
Raanta was back between the pipes after lasting only two periods against the Leafs on Friday night, and was as good as we’ve seen him in an NHL game. He stopped 21 of 22 Kings shots, allowing only an Alec Martinez tally with less than four minutes remaining in regulation. He made a number of acrobatic saves, and was a key to the Hawks killing all three Los Angeles power plays in the game.
Jonathan Toews was exceptional the entire night as well. He led the Hawks with five takeaways, won 10 of 13 faceoffs and had two assists.
His assist on Marian Hossa’s short-handed goal 5:45 into the first period was the result of a great hustle play and an even better pass to Hossa in front of the net. Toews’ assist on Patrick Sharp’s power play goal with 29 seconds left in the first showed great vision and execution.
Thanks to Toews, the Blackhawks were up 3-0 at the end of the first period.
And the Kings were as hot as any team in the league.
LA hadn’t allowed a first period goal in 18 games. They also hadn’t allowed three goals against in those 18 games. And they were 8-0-2 in their last 10 road games before Sunday night at the United Center.
The Hawks’ second goal in the first came from Kris Versteeg, with the primary assist going to Patrick Kane. It was Kane’s 26th assist of the season and his 45th point in 36 games, now only one behind Sidney Crosby for the NHL point lead.
After dominating in November and earning the NHL’s Number One Star of the month, Kane has been even better in December. He has a point in all eight games the Hawks have played in December (nine consecutive overall) and now has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in those eight games.
Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook were credited with assists in the game. For Keith, the assist was his 28th of the season; he is now tied with Crosby and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom for third in the NHL in assists, with Kane right behind them.
Three goals were enough, but the defensive effort from Chicago was an incredible turnaround from Saturday night’s debacle. The Hawks were much better clearing the puck when Raanta left a rebound, and the team blocked 11 shots in front of their rookie netminder.
Sheldon Brookbank skated at forward, replacing Jeremy Morin. He was on the ice for 10:59 in the game, and was credited with two hits and two blocked shots. Brandon Bollig was the lowest ice-time recipient on the night, only 9:33 but he was credited with one hit, one takeaway and one blocked shot.