Less than 24 hours after tanking in Nashville, the Blackhawks returned home to face a hot San Jose team that spent Saturday night.
The homecoming was more significant for Kris Versteeg, playing his first game in Chicago since the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. When the final horn sounded, Versteeg and the Blackhawks had turned in a statement victory against an imposing foe.
Versteeg skated 15:10 in the game and filled the stat sheet. He was credited with one goal, one assist, one blocked shot and two hits. He now has three points in two games since putting the Blackhawks’ sweater back on.
Brandon Pirri scored his sixth goal of the season to get the Blackhawks on the board in the first period. He had another strong game as well, adding an assist, two hits and a takeaway in 14:40 on the ice. Pirri won only three of nine faceoffs, but his defense continues to show improvement.
Pirri now has six points (four goals, two assists) in his last six games, and Sunday night was his third multi-point game of the season. He has 11 points in 16 games since joining the Hawks.
Even without Marian Hossa in the lineup, Patrick Sharp continues his hot streak as well. Sharp had two goals and one assist in the victory, including a penalty shot goal with 71 seconds remaining in regulation. He attempted seven shots in the game – four making it to the net – and was plus-three in the game.
Jonathan Toews “quietly” had another solid evening as well. The Blackhawks’ captain scored his tenth goal of the season, won 11 of 20 faceoffs and was credited with one blocked shot and three takeaways in the game.
Brandon Saad had two assists for the Hawks, and Patrick Kane recorded a point for a seventh consecutive game. Kane has been credited with at least one point in 11 of the last 13 Blackhawks games. Andrew Shaw led the Hawks with seven hits, and Marcus Kruger had a gorgeous assist on Sharp’s first goal of the night.
There are 30 players in the NHL with at least 19 points at the time this is being written. Three of those 30 – Kane, Sharp and Toews – are Blackhawks. With two points from Pirri on Sunday night, the Blackhawks now have ten players with at least ten points this year as well.
On the blue line, Michal Rozsival played a very strong game as coach Joel Quenneville was able to spread out the ice time among his defensemen. The top ice time total for the Hawks on Sunday night was 21:26 by Johnny Oduya, while 18:15 for Rozsival was the lowest.
Shelden Brookbank skated 8:52 as a forward because Marian Hossa missed a second straight game because of a lower-body injury.
Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 24 San Jose shots to earn the victory.
Before the game, Antti Raanta was recalled from Rockford and was the backup on Sunday night.