Two Blackhawks were credited with their first goals of the season, and the highlights revealed a number of other players making special plays, but it was young defenseman Nick Leddy that led the Chicago Blackhawks to victory on Saturday night.
Marcus Kruger started the scoring in the first period with his first NHL goal, and the game was blown open by two goals from Viktor Stalberg in less than two minutes in the third period. But Leddy was the pacesetter all night.
In perhaps his finest NHL game, Leddy skated 22:56, blocked a team-high five shots, was credited with two hits, one takeaway and assists on both of Stalberg’s goals. He skated 2:57 on the power play and 2:45 short-handed in the game. Leddy now has six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 games.
Dave Bolland scored a short-handed goal late in the first period to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. It was Bolland’s second shorty of the season; the Blackhawks have only allowed one power play goal this season. Bolland was called for two penalties in the first period, though. He won 11 of 19 faceoffs in the game.
The Hawks’ fifth, and final, goal of the night came with less than three second left, when Michael Frolik out-hustled Rick Nash to a loose puck and slapped a one-handed shot into the empty net. Frolik, with Stalberg and Leddy, had two points in the game; he assisted on Bolland’s shorty.
Ray Emery was named the third star of the game after making 27 saves against 29 shots. Despite mediocre rebound control and two regrettable goals, Emery remained undefeated on the season.
Chicago won despite playing John Scott in the game. Scott wasted a roster spot by taking only three shifts, totalling 1:44 of ice time, in the game without touching the ice in the third period. Sami Lepisto played for only the second time this season, and was effective replacing Sean O’Donnell. In 13:06 on the ice, Lepisto had two hits and one takeaway.
The Blackhawks have 10 of 12 possible points at home to begin the season, and their penalty kill unit has established itself as the best in the game. Through Saturday night, Chicago has the top-ranked PK in the game (93.9%), with more short-handed goals (three) than power play goals against (two). Chicago has not allowed a power play goal on the road yet this year.
With Detroit’s loss on Saturday night, a shutout at Minnesota, the Blackhawks move ahead of the Red Wings by four points and stand alone in first place in the Central Division.