The Blackhawks celebrated Easter by throttling the Detroit Red Wings, winning 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena. This game – as much as any this season – showed the potential staying power being developed by the Blackhawks organization.
Four of the Blackhawks’ seven goals came from players that are young enough to still be in college, and all three spent time with the Rockford IceHogs earlier this year. Jeremy Morin (21), Brandon Saad (20) and Nick Leddy (22) had goals in the game, and Jimmy Hayes (23) also had a very good afternoon in Detroit.
Morin, who was recalled from Rockford on Saturday morning, opened the scoring with an unassisted tally only 2:33 into the game. Morin was battling traffic in front of the net and was able to put a loose puck behind Jimmy Howard. The immediate impact was a great sign for Morin, who was tearing up the AHL with the IceHogs before getting the call to join the Hawks.
Less than 60 seconds later, Saad scored his first of two goals on the afternoon. Saad has been fantastic in March, and his performance on national television on Sunday should cement his name on the short list for the Calder Trophy this year. He finished the month with three goals and 12 assists and a plus-eight rating in 13 games.
If the two-goal lead provided by Saad hadn’t put enough pressure on Detroit, it took less than 60 seconds for the Hawks to add a third.
Jakub Kindl was pressured by Hayes in front of the Red Wings net and he flipped the puck into his own net. Dave Bolland, who hadn’t scored in more than a month, was credited with the score, but Hayes’ pressure on the Detroit defenseman led to the mistake.
Hayes had his best game with the NHL club this season, and continues to look more comfortable with Patrick Kane and Bolland as he spends more time on their line. He skated a season-high 17:11 and was credited with an assist, two hits and a team-leading four blocked shots.
This first period ended with the Hawks up 3-0 and in complete control.
However, the Hawks have appeared to have a stranglehold on games in the last few weeks and had that control slip away. On Sunday, the domination was complete.
Saad set up Jonathan Toews only 3:52 into the second for the Hawks’ fourth goal, which ended Jimmy Howard’s day between the pipes for the Wings. In less than 24 minutes of action, Howard allowed four goals on only 14 Chicago shots.
Only eight seconds after Toews’ score, Saad blew past the Red Wings defense and scored for a second time in the game. A stretch pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson was perfectly tipped by a Red Wings’ stick in the neutral zone; Saad hit the gas and got to the puck at full speed and in position to beat Jonas Gustavsson. Toews was credited with the second assist on the play.
Another day at the office for Chicago’s captain showed another complete effort. Toews was credited with one goal, two assists, one hit and won 14 of 19 faceoffs.
With a 5-0 lead heading into the third period, the Hawks continued to press. Dave Bolland scored a legitimate goal extended the lead at 7:55 in the third. Leddy finished the scoring for the Hawks with his sixth goal of the season at 16:21.
Unfortunately, a goal (that shouldn’t have been allowed) with only 33 seconds remaining in regulation cost Corey Crawford the shutout. It also moved credit for the game-winning goal from Morin, in his first game back in the NHL, to Saad.
Before the game, coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his pairings on the blue line. Leddy skated with Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith with Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya with Michal Rozsival.
All six defensemen skated between 18:49 (Leddy) and 21:23 (Hjalmarsson), and three defensemen had a point in the game; Leddy (goal), Hjalmarsson (assist) and Rozsival (assist) all contributed offensively.
Crawford wasn’t pressured much early in the game – a credit to the skaters in front of him – but made a few good stops as the Hawks lead continued to grow. When the final horn sounded, Crawford had stopped 33 of 34 shots to earn the victory.
The Blackhawks effectively killed both of the Red Wings powerplay opportunities in the game. After a rough stretch early in March, the Hawks penalty kill unit has rebounded with a strong finish to the month. Chicago hasn’t allowed a powerplay goal in six games, killing 11 penalties.
Chicago is now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games at Joe Louis Arena.