It’s been an interesting few days for the Blackhawks.
Corey Crawford goes down with a concussion.
Henri Jokiharju loaned to play in the World Juniors.
Artem Anisimov and Gustav Forsling activated off injured reserve.
Ryan Hartman returns to play his first game in Chicago in a visiting jersey.
With another division rival in town, the Hawks desperately needed an improved effort after they were embarrassed by the Jets.
The fans at the United Center got exactly that.
The Hawks put forth an effort that is a great example of what makes this team so frustrating. There are night, like Tuesday, when the Hawks show up with some passion, emotion and intent and have shown the ability to play with good teams (Nashville, Pittsburgh). There are other nights they look like an AHL team that’s coming off a weekend bender.
Thankfully this contest was competitive.
Chicago out-shot Nashville 12-11 in a fairly clean first period. Pekka Rinne played outstanding and Cam Ward matched him for most of the opening 20 minutes. Unfortunately for Ward, Kevin Fiala found the back of the net 33 seconds remaining in the first. The Preds were outplayed for a significant portion of the first period but took a lead to the locker room.
The Hawks raised their intensity in the second period and it paid off. Forsling tied the game with his second of the year at 15:22.
Chicago got their second power play of the period with Rocco Grimaldi in the box less than two minutes after the Forsling goal and – stop everything – they scored a power play goal to take the lead.
Erik Gustafsson was credited with the goal, but having someone parked in front of the net paid off again.
After two periods, the Hawks had a 2-1 lead on the scoreboard and a 28-18 shot advantage.
Could they hang on in the third?
The usual stupid penalties, ugly turnovers and missed assignments didn’t show up on this night. Ward faced 13 shots in the third period and stopped all of them, preserving the victory.
Your ice time leader on the blue line in this one was Carl Dahlstrom (22:01). He’s been terrific since coming up from Rockford, which only amplifies the frustration with the hot garbage Stan Bowman filled his blue line with over the summer instead of giving Dahlstrom a long look from the jump.
Patrick Kane led Chicago with seven shots on net.
Dylan Strome played some left wing in the game with Anisimov back in the lineup. He still won six of 11 faceoffs and put four shots on net; Anisimov only took one faceoff in the game.
Marcus Kruger left the game early after he got blown up by Hartman. Hartman was handling the puck and Kruger appeared to go hard head-first into Hartman’s elbow.
Marcus Kruger has a concussion and was cut from the collision with Hartman. #blackhawks
— Scott King (@ScottKingMedia) December 19, 2018