The waiting is the hardest part.
Blackhawks fans have been reading and hearing about John Hayden for four years while he competed at Yale. After his collegiate career ended late last week, he signed with Chicago and joined the NHL club in Montreal. On Thursday night, with Artem Anisimov out for the rest of the regular season, Hayden made his NHL debut – on a line with Jonathan Toews.
Waiting four long years to see Hayden in a Blackhawks sweater didn’t feel nearly as long as the first 40 minutes of the game in Ottawa. The Blackhawks held a 22-21 shot advantage after two periods, but neither team had scored. Scott Darling was fantastic in his return to action but Mike Condon was equally up to the challenge.
Hayden didn’t wait long to make an impression, though. Coach Joel Quenneville opened the game with Marian Hossa skating with Toews and Richard Panik but brought the rookie out with his captain for the next shift. Hayden immediately got in one big hit and almost lined up another Ottawa skater before heading off for a change.
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 16, 2017
Condon’s shutout lasted eight minutes into the third period until Duncan Keith put home his sixth of the season.
Artemi Panarin picked up his 40th assist of the season on Keith’s goal.
Three minutes later, Brent Seabrook went to the box for tripping and Chicago allowed a power play goal for the first time in March. Kyle Turris tied the game at one 12 seconds into the advantage, ending Darling’s shutout bid.
Chicago got a power play when Derick Brassard went to the box at 14:15, and received a brief two-man advantage when Marc Methot joined him 97 seconds later. The Brassard penalty ended without any scoring, but 47 seconds into the Methot-only power play Patrick Kane set up Panik.
Panik’s 18th of the season would hold up as the game-winner and the Blackhawks continued their hot stretch. With a Minnesota loss, the Hawks are now three points up in the Central Division.
Darling was superb, stopping 33 of 34 as the Hawks were out-shot yet again. The skaters in front of Darling blocked another 24 shot attempts, led by six from Johnny Oduya.
Nick Schmaltz, skating as the center between Kane and Panarin in the place of Anisimov, won only two of nine at the dot and had a team-high four giveaways. Panarin had a team-leading five shots on goal.
Hayden skated 8:44 in his first taste of NHL action and did some nice things. He put one shot on net, finished tied with Jordin Tootoo for the team lead with three hits and was also credited with one takeaway.