After earning his first shutout, Malcolm Subban got the call in net again for the Blackhawks on Saturday night; with the Hawks hosting the Red Wings again on Sunday, it made sense that Subban and Kevin Lankinen would split the two games.
The Detroit Red Wings came in one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL. Detroit had won four of their 12 games in February coming into Saturday night’s action, and had scored three goals in a game only three times this month.
But Detroit had won two of their last three games, including a win against the Florida Panthers earlier this week. They were playing relatively well, so taking them for granted could prove costly.
In the first period the Blackhawks carried the majority of the action but found themselves chasing one goal at the end of 20 minutes. Bobby Ryan’s sixth goal of the season at 10:27 into the game gave Detroit the lead. Chicago out-shot Detroit 13-7 in the first but couldn’t beat Jonathan Bernier.
At 13:53 into the second period, Alex DeBrincat jumped over the boards and got a breakaway chance. He made it count.
The tie would only last 16 seconds.
Darren Helm’s first of the season gave the Red Wings the lead. And a Christian Djoos power play goal at 18:27 extended the lead to two.
Most importantly for the Red Wings, Djoos’ goal gave them three in the game.
Detroit out-shot the Hawks 14-10 in the second period and the two goals in the final six minutes of the period gave the Wings some bounce heading to the third.
It felt like the next goal would be critical when the third period began. In the opening four minutes of the period, the Blackhawks were out-shot 7-0 by the Red Wings.
And that important next goal came off the stick of Evgeny Svechnikov, whose first of the season came at 2:33 into the third.
Chicago’s first shot of the period came at 4:43 into the third period. Carl Soderberg set up Mattias Janmark who flipped a perfect feed past Bernier to bring the Blackhawks within two.
Adam Boqvist made a nice pass to get the puck to Soderberg to set up the scoring chance.
The Hawks had a series of really good scoring chances that were all shut down by Bernier, who has been playing very well lately. Chicago was buzzing, but one minor mistake could cost them.
And it did.
Svechnikov fought through traffic and set up Frans Nielson for the Red Wings’ fifth goal of the night. After failing to score five goals in their first 21 games, Detroit has now scored five in their last two games (at home against Nashville on Thursday and now in Chicago on Saturday).
Three of Detroit’s five goals came from players who hadn’t scored yet this year. Svechnikov picked up his first goal and first assist of the season.
What Chicago desperately needed was a power play, which they hadn’t had the benefit of in the first 50 minutes of hockey. They got one when Adam Erne boarded Ian Mitchell at 11:47 into the third.
The Hawks did nothing on the power play, giving them six minutes to make up a three-goal deficit once the advantage concluded.
The Blackhawks finished the night with a cheap goal from Dominik Kubalik with 12 seconds left in regulation to get within 5-3. That’s where the score would end the night.
Subban was not nearly as sharp as he was in the shutout earlier this week, but it was hardy his fault that the Hawks were beaten this badly. He stopped 27 of 32 in the loss, but the skaters in front of him need to be better.
The Blackhawks won only 41 percent of the faceoffs in the game, an issue that has been there all year. Obviously having Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach in the lineup changes everything, but Chicago has to find a way to win more facoeffs.
Kubalik led the Hawks with six shots on net in 14:18. Kane and Janmark put five on net each.
Chicago was credited with only two blocked shots from their six defensemen (on each for Mitchell and Keith).