Gustafsson, Blackhawks Escape Minnesota With OT Win

After a dominant victory in Buffalo on Friday night the Hawks flew to Minnesota to face a Wild team that was eight points in front of Chicago for the first wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Hawks got an early power play opportunity when Jared Spurgeon went to the box only 21 seconds after the game started. Chicago got three advantages in the first period but the only power play goal was scored by the Wild’s Jason Zucker. The first period was a boring one; both teams put eight shots on net and the Hawks were chasing one after 20 minutes.

But Chicago got after it in the second.

Almost four minutes into the second period John Hayden and Matt Hendricks dropped their gloves and did a nice dance before falling to the ice. The “fight” didn’t do much to stir the audience at home but the Blackhawks were able to pick up their offensive attack soon after.

Alex DeBrincat’s 26th of the season tied the game at one at 7:51.

Almost seven minutes later Erik Gustafsson unloaded a one-timer and gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.

Dominik Kahun and Dylan Strome were credited with the assists on the DeBrincat and Gustafsson goals, highlighting a really good period from the line.

The Blackhawks out-shot the Wild 14-11 in the second period and took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

Mikko Koivu tied the game eight minutes into the third period, beginning a third period that saw more action in 90 seconds than we saw in the entire first period.

At 14:32 Greg Pateryn cross-checked Patrick Kane into the boards and was told to think about his actions alone for two minutes. While he contemplated his play, Chicago finally took advantage of a power play. Kane took a high stick to the mouth and appeared to get pissed off… a death blow to teams playing the Hawks recently.

DeBrincat got the puck to Kane who fired a pass to Jonathan Toews in front of the net. Chicago’s captain redirected the pass into the net to give Chicago a 3-2 lead.

Unfortunately, Victor Rask scored 88 seconds later to tie the game.

Both sides had good chances in the final minutes of the third period but the game headed to overtime. But before regulation ended Ryan Suter took a delay of game penalty that carried over into the extra session.

The Hawks started the 4-on-3 overtime power play with Toews, Kane, DeBrincat and Gustafsson on the ice. Gus tried to defer – to a fault he continued to pass – until finally he put a good shot on net and ended the game.

His second goal of the night and tenth of the year gave the Blackhawks a second road victory in as many nights.

Collin Delia got the start and did a nice job. He stopped 28 of 31 shots to earn the victory. Alex Stalock allowed four goals against 31 shots to take the loss.

Toews led Chicago with six shots on net and won 14 of 26 faceoffs with one goal and an assist on the game-winning goal.

DeBrincat added the second assist on the game-winning goal, giving him three points in the game. Strome and Kahun had two assists and Gustafsson’s two goals were the other Hawks skaters with multi-point nights.

52 thoughts on “Gustafsson, Blackhawks Escape Minnesota With OT Win

  1. When was last time they had back to back road wins. Good to see 2nd line clicking and of course Kane sparks them in the end. Great to see Gus getting offense going again. Good team win.

    Prospects: Chl
    Boqvist 1g
    Hagel 1a
    Gravel 25 saves on 27 shots win
    Entwistle expected back next wknd

    Olofsson 2g 1a
    Foo 2a
    Mitchell 1a late 3rd

    Slavin 1a

    Shalunov 1a

  2. Another entertaining game. Very high energy at times. We hung in there just fine against a pissed and desperate team on their ice. Very nice!

    Holy smokes… a goal that Kahun assisted on was challenged… and not called back.

    A PP goal, a solid second line that produced without Kane on it, and good third and fourth line shifts.

    I know that we are 3 pts out of the playoffs but given how many teams are ahead of us and how many have games in hand, we still need to get incredibly hot just to get in the picture.

    Anybody else see the reports that Seabrook will not waive his NMC?

  3. Elliotte Friedman reported that on hnic. Saying he said no for now likes it in Chicago.

    Forgot Icehogs
    Raddysh 1g 1a
    Sikura 1g
    Carlson 1a
    Martinsen 1a
    Forsberg 26saves 28 shots win

  4. Travis – saw the Seabrook report on HNC. I still would be shocked if any team actually inquired about his availability. There is never a dull moment with Gus on the ice – great offensive skills and multiple odd-man rushes due to bad pinches. I still think he is staying – too much offensive upside and a friendly contract. Would be nice to see a win in Edmonton on Tuesday to sweep the trip.

  5. Wouldn’t make too much on waiving the nmc for Seabrook and Keith. Don’t if they are being approached from we want to move on from you guys or do you want to be a part of this and we will try to accommodate you with a trade standpoint. I feel more the latter could be what is hapoening.

  6. Gustafsson is a weapon. Sure, he’s not honor roll material yet from a purely defensive standpoint, so what? Who’s to say any defenseman of the future will play anywhere near his offensive level? It’s pure speculation.

    Players like Gustafsson are difference makers. The Hawks power play was atrocious last year and this year until Gustafsson took the reigns at the point. Special teams are critical. We finally have a dangerous, productive power play and Bowman is going to trade him? How many D men in the league have a cannon, accurate shot like him from the point?

    The coach deserves credit for changing the fortunes of the power play, no question. Bowman, do NOT trade Gustafsson.

  7. Good point Ian I hadn’t considered that. And agree with MS… the only GM sufficiently nuts to get Seabs is Chiapet. Which probably explains why he’s out of work atm.

  8. But to be fair to Seabrook, he is still playing like a middle pair Dman. Several noticeable hits tonight. Still has a good shot and skates alright given his age and style of play. A middle pair Dman isn’t worth 7M but it could be worse. For now.

  9. Great post Iceman. Nailed it.
    Ian this reminds me of December when the Hawks beat Dallas on the road, then went into Denver, the next night and won. Same feeling.

    Credit Colliton with putting Kane and Toews together. Keith and Seabrook together and pretty much saying by his actions, you guys have been the core, we will lean on you for what is an improbable, yet possible, playoff push.

    Sadly for Perlini, he had a chance to be a difference maker and did not convert.

  10. OK, wait a minute. What’s going on here? Another win – 4 in a row. I still look at the Hawks and think there’s no chance they win a playoff series, let alone 4 of them. So it doesn’t make sense to root for them to keep winning and make the playoffs because they’re not good enough to beat the top teams in a best of 7 series. But … it’s hard not to enjoy them playing well and winning games.

    Back to the “what’s going on here” question. Is it mainly as simple as the PP is vastly improved? I think the answer is yes. There are other things too, but the biggest factor is the improvement of the PP. Scoring 2 goals on the PP and winning the game by 1 goal means you probably lose by 1 goal if the PP doesn’t score. The lack of scoring on the PP was a huge factor in losing so many games earlier in the season.

    So … I’m not sure how I’m SUPPOSED to feel about the Hawks winning, but I can tell you how I DO feel – pretty pleased to see them play well.

  11. Its good to see them win. I honestly would rather have this than wind up 31st. But dont be fooled. Its still a bad team.
    Theyre still letting plenty of high danger chances against happen.
    Perlini and Hayden are still pretty much useless.
    Imagine this team if Kaner gets a long term injury. Yea not good. And honestly what ive seen in these past two games…hes a target now so that just may happen. Im sorry but Toews doesnt really put the fear in my heart if im an opponent looking to nail Kane with a hit or worse a cheapshot.

    Glad they won tho.

  12. Craig, most penalty shots are not successful. Florida had one tonight that didn’t go in. Perlini made a nice shot that almost made it through the pads.

    Hawks are playing well, including very good goaltending. DCat has a great sneaky release. Looks like they may be drafting even lower than last year.

    One observation: Strome was beaten to the puck most of the time. His lack of quickness is concerning.

  13. Athleticism is innate, but improvements can be made “around the edges”. Strome is never going to quick, but he can train to become quicker than he currently is. He will turn 22 next month and at 6’3″ and 200lbs, he is still kind of lanky. He hasn’t reached peak physical maturity yet so there is a good possibility he can add 5 or 10 pounds of spring to his legs and core which would get him to pucks quicker then he gets to them now. Let’s hope he has the “want to” to do so.

  14. Statistical extrapolation is more fun than certain – life (and sports) isn’t necessarily linear, but here are the point total extrapolations (for 82 games) for the top scoring Hawks.

    Kane. 120 points
    Toews. 79 points
    DeBrincat – 73 points
    Gustafsson – 54 points
    Saad – 47 points
    Strome – 65 points
    Kahun – 34 points
    Anisimov – 37 points

  15. Darren Raddysh with the OT winner in Milwaukee, Ice Hogs win 3-2. They coughed up a 2-0 lead late but bounced back. Dylan Sikura with a nice goal at the net too.

    As long as Hull65 doesn’t post nonsense rants I am low key posting.

  16. Be concerned about Strome if you wish but he had another 2 point night and does a good job on the power play. There is a lot of talent there.

  17. Gustafsson and Strome. PP right kind of mix. We always had how many elite players on PP. Hall of fame players 4 of 5. Only 2009, 2010, and maybe part of 2012 PP was good. 2013-2016 PK was tops with BOS. Both guys are difference. This is what hlaf the teams in the league get to help them win a decent PP. We ve playing without that and one so shitty and still did ok overall, per say. Give us a PP we deserve these yrs and…

    How the power play coming along. Yeaaaa were working on it. Gustafsson and Strome are the Hanson brothers to the PP.

  18. I’ve written this before. There is no way Gus should or is being traded. It takes a few years for D men to fully develop. He’s an offensive force. JC said last month he’s as good as he wants to be. Plus his cap friendly contract. U think Boquist or anyone is going to come in from juniors and be better. It will take years for them to get to his level. These kids are not polished D men. Dylan Strome is a hockey player. I don’t give a shit if he lacks speed or quickness. He more than makes up for it in smarts, his reach, size and getting better positioning and his confidence. He’s just turning 22.

  19. Gustafsson, scored 2 goals. Trade him now while his value is high.

    Was a joke. Noonan or someone the other day/wk ago? said do we want to keep him, when most were like trade everybody. I said then we should keep stay.

  20. Ebony is right on on Strome. He can be better if he works hard at building up his strength and speed in the offseason. Lots of hockey IQ there whereas schmaltz proved to have very little despite having the tools.

  21. Another thing on Strome, like 20, 65, 36, 29, 16, 67, 15 those kind of guys/the ones that arnt really fast stand out more in playoffs.

  22. ER, everytime/people get thinking that way we lose 5 that were getting top 3 % pick now, then win 4 and were getting a lower pick then last yr. Its always after we win a bunch of games or lose 8 twice or 5 when people think it. Thats natural. The bottom line is every time we won 6-2-1 to start the 2nd 40 games or these 4 games now were still in that group of teams for top 6 pick.

    I said it after that 6-2-1 and now with these 4, as well as after losing 8 and that recent 5. Until were not in that group of 6 teams, I am going with a top 6 pick.

    We are not a bottom 10 team. We are a mid tier tam without a full roster. You fill out our roster with what we need were back to top 5 team. right now were in the better half of mid tier teams.

  23. PHI was at 7, then they win 7 and are at 0. So there are 5 teams in that group now. We win 7 in a row and were at 1 and would be in that next group, that picks 7-15. Worst place to be. I would go with predicting, not a certain pick position, when ever we in a bunch that we ll end up with higher pick then that spot and when we lose 5 we end up with a little lower then that pick.

    Really though its about those groups of teams. Group of 6 teams, other then OTT looks like, draw a straw for 2-6th pick or if in the next group of teams/teams around .500 pick a straw 7-15 because the groups are so close together it could be any pick on those ranges, when in the group.

    We need to be plus 10 to get to playoffs and thats with DAL and MIN staying around 5, which they have done for a long time now/40 games or so.

  24. Did someone steal the Hawks? It’s been fun and the team looks relaxed and enjoying the games. (Of course none of it happens without Kane playing on a different level.)
    Now the teams in the playoff mix look like they are playing tight, and if the Hawks get closer-and their schedule is pretty good-we’ll see if they play as relaxed.

    If they make the playoffs, (and it’s a huge long shot), are they a good fit for the playoff style hockey that happens? Probably not and there is some heavy work to do before they are truly ready to advance into the later rounds.

    The comment from you know who about Strome being too slow is ridiculous-Strome has opened up some eyes in the league and many teams wish they had made that trade. Now he looks more like a top 5 pick-although that ’15 first round was sick throughout-Rantanen-10, Barzal 16, Connor 17 and Boeser 23rd.

  25. It’s a credit to Colliton on the effort this team is putting out every night. And the PP looks great. I would love to hear the conversations between the Organization and Seabrook.

  26. Loags- I don’t think Schmaltz was lazy… I think he was as dis-interested in board battles as TT was… and Shoots even less than TT… furthermore- TT had a Higher IQ on how to play fast (not skate as fast as Schmaltz… but move puck/think faster than Schmaltz)… I liked TT… Just didn’t fit Q’s style/Cycle game…

    just my 2 cents

  27. Schmaltz didn’t get to be a league leader in takeaways by being lazy. That takes work and two way responsibility, yes after getting a concussion his desire to not get another one affected his physical play, how dare he eh.

  28. I don’t want to be misunderstood regarding Strome – I think he’s a pretty good hockey player and is a lot better than I thought he was going to be. But, he does have shortcomings in quickness and stamina. His end to end speed isn’t a problem unless it’s toward the end of a shift in which case he loses speed noticeably more so than most. His stop to start quickness is sub par which is why he loses the race to the puck so often. His hockey sense/IQ mitigates that somewhat but often times it comes down to quick-twitch athleticism and he loses that battle most of the time. He can get better at both shortcomings if he is dedicated to doing so. I hope so because if he can improve stamina and stop/start quickness, I think he can be a 70+ point scoring top-6 center.

    Strome was picked with the #3 pick in 2015. The guy that was picked with the #3 pick in 2014 had the same knock on him as Strome – that he may not be quick enough to be a top player. That player, Leon Draisitl, proved his critics wrong and is a high scoring top-6 center. I’m not comparing Strome and Draisitl because at this point Strome hasn’t proven he belongs in that comparison – but he has a chance if he wants it bad enough to work for it.

  29. Schmaltz a league leader in takeaways was deceiving.

    When Hossa did it he was racing back and stole the puck. Thats what made Hoss great.

    When Shmaltz did it the opponent was within 5 feet of him.

    And yea he was dis interested in board battles. No argument there.

  30. I’ve been a Strome booster from when he first came to the Hawks – clearly he’s a smarter hockey player than Schmaltz – he isn’t as fast we can all see that but notice how he got back on that MIN 2 on 1 on a CHI PP to take away the pass

    I really don’t see his lack of top end speed as much of a detriment – yes he doesn’t win many all out foot races but the game is so much more than that and his vision, passing, positioning, compete level are high – as he gets stronger he’ll get even better

    A clear win for Stan without even mentioning Perlini who looked like a contributor on the 4th line tonight

  31. Gus is still an adventure in his own end although Forsling did well to cover for him a couple of times but Gus’ offence cannot be denied

    Overall good team win – they played competed hard and played well – MIN was really pushing hard and the Hawks didn’t break

    Really high TOI for both T and K and 24 and 26 respectively – something to keep an eye on

  32. I don’t see trading Gustafsson as a good move. I’ve bitched about the defensive play of the team all year, and last year too. But to have a guy up top on the PP like him and to have his offensive presence overall, that’s a hit to lose him. But it’s going to be interesting to see what happens at the trading deadline and beyond. He might be one of the few guys that other team inquire about.

  33. Of course they will Big Indian. He’s rapidly becoming one of the best playing the point in hockey. He’s young and cheap.

  34. ER and everyone else, hoping that very young Strome can increase his strength and stamina. Anticipates the play well. His passing is laser sharp. Needs to get to the puck faster, win battles, and break up plays in his own end. Nice job getting back to prevent the 2 on 1. A key player to the Hawks becoming a contender again.

    JC should give Perlini more ice time. Looks good at times. Made a nice decision on his penalty shot by going pie hole. Came very close.

  35. Agree Gus value be high at tdl and under contract next season for 1.2m caphit makes him a target for teams like Leafs who need his offense and under a cap crunch. Replacing him though be tough to do next season, but time will tell. My feeling is either he goes or Keith is accommodated.

  36. I have been very critical of Gus for like forever, but his offense has exploded and right now he runs the PP with the best of them. Sell high or could he be part of the future? It’s a tough call. If it’s the latter, then the conversation shifts from dealing him to potentially re-upping him which I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see given Stan usually likes to move early on things.

    Agree that Strome > Schmaltz. His hands are great and while he is a little gangly, he shields the puck well and uses his stork-like reach well. If he gets clean possession in the offensive zone he almost always does something productive with it. Happy to have him.

  37. The Hawks Power Play has been poor for many of the seasons during the T&K era, maybe most of the seasons. It’s been a confounding thing Hawks fans have shook their head at for years – how can a PP with so many elite players be in the bottom half of the league? Theories abounded but the explanation that garnered the most credence was Keith did not have a good enough shot so the defense played off him by half a step knowing he couldn’t make them pay. In a game where a split second is the difference between getting a shot through from the blue line and not getting it through – Keith simply did not get his shot off quickly enough to be a legitimate weapon. He did everything very well – but his shot was slow and inaccurate. He never mastered the one-timer so the defenders and goalie had that split second to negate his shot.

    Gustafsson has what Keith doesn’t and the difference it has made is like night and day. PP success kind of comes and goes so it’s doubtful the Hawks will maintain the torrid pace they’ve been on but the PP is appreciably better and a PP goal here and there that would not have been scored before is the difference between winning and losing a game here and there.

  38. I wouldnt have ever thought it, I am amazed we havnt talked about or miss Schmaltz this much. His name only comes up when people are talking about how good Strome is and can be/with things he needs to get better at and when Strome does good and the PP, eh! Amazed.

    I love Teuvo. The king of the roads. So fucking happy he helped win the Cup that yr.

  39. Just saw a PK kill and goal during next min by BOS. Now WAS hasnt been playing good last 10 games, what it reminded me of is 2013-16 when we have top 3 PK and we kill basically every/most PK and then get mo or just make good plays in the min after killing a PK. We might just have a chance at having a top 3/5 PP and PK this time around.

    Just think about how good it will help our team game to be good like that on both.

  40. Yep – those seasons when Kruger and Hjalmarsson were leading the PK and the PK was top-5 in the league were very good. What went hand in hand with the successful PK was the Hawks were one of the least penalized teams so we didn’t give the opponent many PP opportunities and when we did we stuffed them at a very high rate. During those seasons the Hawks were one of the best teams at drawing penalties so even though the PP wasn’t very good from a success rate, we had so many more PP opportunities than our opponents did that we had a significant special teams goal differential – PP goals scored versus PK goals given up.

  41. Thought on playoffs is COL is a good team and they have sucked for a long time. Longer then a good team would. Now watch them win a lot from deadline to playoffs and still be 5or6 seed. With them being so bad for this long they went 10 to 1. The 7 and 8 seed have been around 5 over .500 since game 10 and are still there, thats DAL and MIN.

    Needing to get to plus 5 and those two teams being around that to make playoffs, now you have this COL collapse. Where they were a 5/6 seed lock. Which means, until COL starts ‘playing’ again, its the 6 and 7 and 8 seed around 5 over .500 and even though COL has fallen from being a borderline top 10 team to just a mid tier team, lets keep them in that plus 5 over .500 group.

    This means with NAS and WIN not giving a shit about record as NAS knows know for a few yrs and WIN learned last yr. You have a up and coming team for a couple yrs now, CAL, taking over 1 seed because they will keep pushing since they have no idea what playoffs are about and might get 1 seed.

    What does that mean, we make playoffs as 8 seed and were not having to play playoff battled and test and prepared and learned and experienced top 3 teams in NAS and WIN. We could play CAL and get a good clean playoff experience for this yr and next yr.

    It is after all the way NAS and WIN weaseled their way into the playoffs before they were ready to compete with us during those last few yrs. Its a good place to start and what every other division in hockey gets to get away with in first round.

  42. Mo – nothing is impossible but very very unlikely the Hawks make the playoffs this year. I’d be happy to see continued improvement from the team and solid reasons for optimism going into next year.

    If the Hawks get to say 3-4 games over .500 then I’ll start believing. ; )

  43. Think the same. Just thats what it would take and stuff. I want a top 6 pick. I like and routing to win games and watch guys develop. Like 56. Its just the start of what we have coming in upside.

  44. Interesting to read the comments now about Gustafsson and those made by many of the same people on March 5/6 2018 when he signed that two year extension.

    Goes to show: maybe people employed in hockey know a little more than us.

  45. I leave the country for a month, Hawks fans still are talking about trading key players. News flash, the hawks are at best 8 point/4 games out of the playoffs with 29 games left. We have a very easy schedule with zero games in Feb/March against the 6 best teams.

    Tab, should we not be talking about trading to get a top9 forward to push us into the playoffs ($4+M in cap space right). Breaking news to some of you, this Hawks team has loads of talent, the def has settled in, the offense is stellar, and our goaltending is Ward/Delia. Wow, doom and gloom when it should be straight up excitement. Lambast me at the end of the year if the Hawks don’t make the playoffs, I can take it. What team in front of us scares you? There are 3 playoff spots for 5 teams: ST Louis, CO, MN, Dallas and the Hawks. I like the Hawks odds. The rest in their current state the hawks should have no problem passing. For you doom and gloom guys, Paxson/Forman, those duos are idiots, that is where you should be. Chelsea Dagger to all of you. Go hawks.

  46. 6 and 7 and 8 seed are doable. Points are misleading, were 10 games over .500 from those spots. We are a better team then DAL and MIN and others just do not have the record because of those 8 game loss twice and that recent 5 game loss. Which is best thing for us, were still there and in the group for top 6 pick.

    No matter what we win this yr. Only thing bad would be a 10-22 pick.

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