The Blackhawks rolled into Denver with a lineup that included three rookie defensemen and was missing its captain. But the All-Star Break served the tired Hawks well, and a rejuvenated team earned a big win against a divisional opponent to start the season’s “second half.”
One of the rookie defensemen, Viktor Svedberg, was recalled earlier on Tuesday and got into the mix quickly in his first game back with the NHL club. He picked up an assist on the Blackhawks first goal of the game, less than three minutes into the contest.
Richard Panik’s third of the year gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead, but 18 seconds after the goal Chicago would go short-handed as Brent Seabrook was called for tripping.
On the penalty kill, Niklas Hjalmarsson got banged up and Svedberg saw penalty kill time. The Hawks successfully killed the penalty and Hjalmarsson was able to return because he’s made of either rubber or adamantium.
Artemi Panarin started the second half of his season right where he left off before the break, scoring his 18th of the season with an assist going to Patrick Kane. The assist was the 396th of Kane’s career, moving him past Chris Chelios into seventh on the Blackhawks’ all-time list for helpers.
Coach Joel Quenneville mixed his lines quickly in the first. Teuvo Teravainen started with Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw, but every line other than Panarin, Kane and Artem Anisimov was thrown into the blender early. Teravainen stayed with Shaw, but Panik joined them; Hossa saw time with Phillip Danault and Andrew Desjardins.
The combinations worked, as the Hawks poured 14 shots on Calvin Pickard in the opening 20 minutes. Shaw had a strong period and Teravainen won three of four faceoffs. Danault won three of five at the dot while Anisimov won three of eight to start the game.
Colorado only put six shots on net, but the second – at 9:59 – went in. An attempted clear bounced off a couple bodies and sticks and found Gabriel Landeskog right in front of Crawford.
Chicago killed a second penalty in the first period and finished the opening 20 with a 2-1 lead.
Teravainen took the place of Jonathan Toews on the penalty kill as Chicago’s captain serves his All-Star Game suspension. In the second, the Blackhawks had their first power play opportunity and it was Jiri Sekac who replaced Toews on the second unit. The Hawks weren’t able to convert their first advantage of the game.
The second period came and went without a score from either team – and without much of anything from the home team. The Hawks out-shot the Avs 16-2 in the second and held a 29-8 shot advantage after 40 minutes. In fact, Chicago held a EV shot attempt differential of plus-40 through two periods.
But, predictably, Colorado came out firing to start the third. They matched their eight shots from the first two periods in the opening four minutes of the third as the possession game the Hawks had dominated was now favoring the Avs.
Panarin had a great breakaway chance but was stopped by Pickard with nine minutes left in regulation. He had Chicago’s two best scoring chances for the Hawks until the Avs’ net was empty in the final two minutes.
Corey Crawford had another tremendous third period, and had to as Calvin Pickard was superb on the other end for Colorado. Pickard stopped 40 of 42 in the loss, while Crawford made 16 big saves in the third period to finish the night with 24 saves and a victory.
Danault led the Hawks at the dot in the absence of Toews, winning 10 of 14 faceoffs, while Anisimov had a strong third period to finish winning nine of 21 draws. Shaw and Hossa led Chicago with five shots on net, and the Hawks were led by Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook’s three blocked shots each.
Chicago’s three rookie defensemen played well. Svedberg skated 13:45 and was credited with one hit, three shots on net and two missed shots with an assist. Erik Gustafsson spent 2:44 of his 16:46 on the power play and was credited with two takeaways and two shots on net. And Trevor van Riemsdyk blocked two shots and was credited with one hit in 17:09.
The Western Conference-leading Blackhawks are in Arizona on Thursday night, and expect Toews to be back in the lineup.