On Friday night, the Rangers visited the United Center and former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta pitched a 26-save overtime shutout. Raanta had a strong performance in Chicago and hasn’t lost – or given the net back to Henrik Lundqvist – since, posting a 3-0-0 record with one goal allowed over the three contests.
His hot streak continued through the first period at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. With both Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook back in the lineup, the Blackhawks actually out-shot an opponent in the first period 11-7. Raanta was up to the task against his former employer, and Scott Darling was on point at the other end of the ice as well.
Raanta’s shutout streak wouldn’t make it through the second period, though.
At 5:18 into the second, Artemi Panarin carried the puck into the zone and found Trevor van Riemsdyk in front for his first of the season.
It had been more thdan 176 minutes since Raanta had allowed a goal. But almost exactly three minutes later, Jesper Fast made a special play to tie the game.
Four minutes after the Fast goal, Chris Kreider ran Ryan Hartman from behind.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) December 14, 2016
Hartman took a moment to get to his feet and tried to skate back to the bench but ultimately was sent directly to the dressing room, while Kreider was sent to the box for boarding. Unfortunately, the Hawks wouldn’t get a power play; they were called for too many men.
During the 4-on-4 that followed, the Blackhawks did a nice job passing the puck in a circle and skating with it, but never got a shot on net.
Darling and Raanta continued to hold strong on either end of the ice until Panarin and Brian Campbell attacked the net. Campbell made a terrific pass to Artem Anisimov to put the Hawks up 2-1 inside the final two minutes of the second. The goal is Anisimov’s 13th of the season; Panarin picked up a second assist in the period as well.
Darling faced 16 shots in the second period, stopping 15.
Keeping an eye on how coach Joel Quenneville used Toews, Chicago’s captain skated 11:58 through two periods and won six of eight faceoffs. By comparison, Anisimov skated 12:02 and won three of seven at the dot.
Toews started the game between Hartman and Marian Hossa, but Richard Panik replaced Hartman for the final few minutes of the second period while Hartman was being evaluated.
Through two periods, Seabrook had skated 16:31 with two hits in his return from a three-game absence.
Thankfully, Hartman returned for the start of the third period and got a good piece of Kreider in his first shift of the final frame.
The goaltending show continued well into the third as Darling and Raanta put on a show on either end of the ice. With three minutes left in regulation, Darling made a huge save on a Mats Zuccarello shot to keep the Hawks on top by one. He made another enormous stop 45 seconds later to rob Jimmy Vesey on the doorstep.
Raanta skated to the bench with 80 seconds left in regulation and the Rangers burned their timeout moments later. With the extra attacker on the ice for the home team, the Hawks did a magnificent job of making it nearly impossible for the Rangers to get the puck out of their defensive zone and hung on for a big road victory.
Darling was fantastic throughout, stopping 33 of 34 in the victory. Chicago picked up their 12th one-goal win of the season, beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
After the morning skate, Quenneville said Toews “probably” wouldn’t skate 20 minutes. The returning captain was “limited” to 18:09 in the win, winning eight of 13 faceoffs. He was also credited with one takeaway and one blocked shot.
Patrick Kane led the way with five shots on net while Anisimov and Tyler Motte were credited with three each. Anisimov and Panarin had two-point nights, and Hossa led Chicago with three takeaways. Andrew Desjardins and Richard Panik were credited with a team-high three hits. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Campbell led the Hawks with three blocked shots each.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) December 14, 2016