Winnipeg – specifically Connor Hellebuyck – has had the Blackhawks number this season. On Friday night, the Blackhawks attacked the Jets’ goaltender early and often trying to reverse their fortunes.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead on Patrick Kane’s 18th of the year.
The snipe made Kane the Blackhawks’ all-time leading American-born goal scorer, and punctuated a strong opening 20 minutes for the visitors.
Aided by two power plays in the first period, Chicago out-shot Winnipeg 16-9 in the first period. Corey Crawford had a terrific period.
The second period saw Bryan Little tie the game at one 1:43 into the period after a flurry by the Jets. Chicago settled down in the middle stages of the period and controlled the action over the second ten minutes of the middle frame.
At 12:16 into the second, Kane added an assist as Artem Anisimov’s 19th of the season. Chicago’s top scoring line had two points each in the game’s first 40 minutes, with Artemi Panarin picking up an assist on both of the goals.
Chicago held a 26-16 shot advantage after two periods, with a few noticeable games. Brent Seabrook saved a would-be game-tying goal later in the second period when the puck slowly slipped through Crawford. Brian Campbell had one of his better games in recent memory as well, and the Ryan Hartman was playing a strong, physical game.
But the Hawks only led by one with 20 minutes to play.
Winnipeg brought it in the first 13 minutes of the third, but the Hawks shot blocking and Crawford’s solid play between the pipes held the lead. Niklas Hjalmarsson went to the box for tripping at 13:27 and the Jets attack continued. While the Jets had the advantage, Crawford continued to play exceptionally well and Chicago killed off the power play with less than five minutes left in regulation.
At 17:01, Duncan Keith extended the lead to 3-1.
But 24 seconds later, and with Hellebuyck on the bench, Marcus Kruger was sent to the penalty box for high sticking.
With Kruger in the box, Marian Hossa was able to shoot a turnover home from deep in his own zone for the empty net short-handed goal to make the score 4-1 in favor of the Blackhawks.
The Jets were still on the power play and after Seabrook blocked a couple (more) shots, Adam Lowry cut the lead to 4-2 with 71 seconds left in regulation. Hellebuyck stayed on the bench as the Hawks returned to full strength.
Keith picked off a pass and found Panarin at the blue line and the Bread Man scored into the empty net to make the lead 5-2 with 15 seconds left in regulation.
With the win, the Blackhawks improve to 11-6-0 since the beginning of the 2017 calendar year and have won their last four straight.
Panarin led Chicago with three points (one goal, two assists). Kane had one goal and one assist with a team-high six shots on net. And Anisimov also had a goal and an assist.
The blue line had a strong night across the board. Hjalmarsson was plus-five with an assist and a team-leading six blocked shots. Seabrook also had six blocked shots. And Keith had two points, two blocked shots and was a plus-four in the game.
Keith now has seven points (one goal, six assists) in four games in February, with two points in three of the four contests.
Crawford was stellar throughout, stopping 28 of 30 in the victory.
For the first time in February, Jonathan Toews was held without a point. But he put five shots on net and won 13 of 21 faceoffs with a blocked shot. Nick Schmaltz skated 14:54 and picked up an assist on Keith’s goal. And Ryan Hartman led the Hawks with three hits.