After a comeback win against the Leafs that ultimately cost Ron Wilson the coaching job in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks played a fantastic defensive game against the Ottawa Senators on Friday to earn two big points.
And no Blackhawks player was bigger in the outcome than former Sens netminder Ray Emery.
Emery, who was bought out by the Sens a few years ago, gave up an awkward goal to Milan Michalek late in the first period but was exceptional the rest of the night. Aided by one of the better defensive performances by the skaters in front of him, Emery made a number of huge saves in the second and third periods to earn the win. He stopped 25 of 26 shots in the game and fought hard to preserve the 2-1 victory.
He had to be great to win, though. Robin Lehner, the starter between the pipes for the Sens, was incredible. He stopped 37 of 39 shots in the game and was the only reason Ottawa was in the game after Chicago put 17 goals on net in each of the first two periods.
Bryan Bickell played another solid game, coming back to life since being put back with Dave Bolland. He led the team with five hits, was credited with three blocked shots and scored the game-tying goal early in the second period in traffic in front of the net.
Marian Hossa scored the game-winning goal against his former employer, his 27th of the season. Patrick Sharp had assists on both goals, and Patrick Kane played another really good game at center in the absence of Jonathan Toews.
As was the case on Wednesday night, the youngsters on the roster made a significant impact.
Jimmy Hayes was also strong in the game; he was credited with three hits in just over six minutes of ice time. Marcus Kruger had an assist and two hits, Nick Leddy had two blocked shots and a takeaway (in 22:32), and Dylan Olsen had a blocked shot.
Andrew Shaw was all over the ice in the third period, and was credited with two hits and two takeaways in 17:40 on the ice. Shaw played a great final 20 minutes on the defensive end of the ice.
This may have been the most complete defensive effort from the Blackhawks since before the nine-game losing streak, and Emery’s last five periods should (read: must) have cemented his place on top of the depth chart in Chicago.