The Chicago Blackhawks, coming off one of their now all-too-familiar emotionally vacant losses, made some lineup changes before Friday night’s game. The hope was that they would spark the team to a better performance.
And then the game started…
The Islanders came in averaging 28.4 shots per game. The Blackhawks let them put 23 shots on net in the third period alone. What makes that stat more aggravating is that the Hawks held the Islanders to only two shots in the second period.
The bi-polar Blackhawks.
The Islanders had only scored four in regulation twice since Oct. 15, and came in having not scored four goals in the road. They handled both of those “feats” on Friday night. In fact, the Isles had only scored three goals in 11 periods before Friday night’s game.
Kyle Okposo had scored two goals this year, and they were in the same period. He scored four minutes into the game.
The Blackhawks: slumpbusters?
Yes, there were some aspects of the game that were positive for Chicago. Ben Smith scored a goal, giving him more points in one night than Bryan Bickell had in November. Michael Frolik had his second point since October, and the Hawks scored another power play goal.
Jonathan Toews had another epic effort, scoring an incredible short-handed goal and winning 14 of 22 faceoffs to carry the Blackhawks to victory. His goal to open the shootout was the game-winner.
But the penalty kill has been a laughing stock this year. Okposo’s goal at 4:07 into the first was a power play goal, and PA Parenteau’s goal 46 seconds into the third was also with a man advantage. In total, an Islanders team that had only 11 power play goals in 22 games scored twice on special teams in one night.
Corey Crawford struggled again, allowing four goals on 41 shots. The fourth goal, which ultimately pushed the game to overtime, was an ugly goal off a uglier turnover during an ugly attempted change. Crawford made some big saves late, and one can’t fault him a lot for allowing two goals against 25 shots in only the third period and overtime, but the fourth goal was too soft to happen at this stage of the season.
When the money was on the table, though, Crawford made three big saves (well, two and the post helped on the third) in the shootout and the Hawks escaped with the victory and two crucial points in the standings.