Jonathan Toews got the party started with a two-goal first period and the Blackhawks received another stunning performance between the pipes from Corey Crawford in a 4-1 home victory.
Toews had a four-point night, adding assists on two goals from Marian Hossa as the Blackhawks’ top line dominated the entire night. Patrick Sharp picked up two assists to give the line eight points in the victory.
With Patrick Kane on the shelf, the Hawks captain now has nine points (four goals, five assists) and Hossa has seven points (four goals, three assists) in six games in the month of March.
Unfortunately, 5:30 into the second period and with his team leading by two, Andrew Shaw head butted Brock Nelson and was give a five-minute major and a game misconduct. The five minute power play could have been a game-changer for the visitors, but the Hawks turned in a magnificent kill that yielded only one shot on net. When Hossa scored his first of the game – and 20th of the season – late in the period, the Islanders were effectively buried.
Hossa added his 21st of the season only 57 seconds into the period, and the Hawks were able to hang on the rest of the way.
Crawford was fantastic against the second-ranked offense in the NHL. Nikolay Kulemin beat him 5:29 into the third to end Crawford’s shutout bid, but he stood strong against a number of good opportunities and loose pucks in traffic in front of the net to win the game.
The Blackhawks netminder has been sensational in March, and Tuesday night’s win pushed his mark in the month to 5-0-1 (the only loss being a 1-0 defeat in a shootout). His 37-save performance against the Islanders improved his save percentage to .961 in March.
Toews won 13 of 17 faceoffs to cap the exceptional night. He matched-up with the league’s leading scorer entering the night, John Tavares, and was dominant. Tavares ended the game minus-four and won only seven of 18 faceoffs.
Johnny Oduya continued to look much better since returning from injury, and played arguably his best game of the calendar year on Tuesday. Oduya skated 21:28 and picked up one assist, two blocked shots and two hits. He also made a nice play behind the Hawks’ net and got the puck out to Niklas Hjalmarsson to start a rush that ended with Toews’ second goal.
The new additions had effective games as well. Andrew Desjardins finished tied with Brent Seabrook for the team lead with four hits, Antoine Vermette finished tied with Hjalmarsson with a team-high three blocked shots, and Kimmo Timonen’s ice time picked up to almost 15 minutes in the win (he blocked one shot and was credited with one hit in the game.
Nick Leddy’s return to the United Center will have to wait until next season, as the defenseman did not play because of an upper-body injury.
One New York team visited Chicago on Tuesday, and the Hawks will visit the other on Wednesday. The Blackhawks play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.