Second Line Powers Blackhawks’ First-Ever Win against Vegas
Meta Description: The Chicago Blackhawks earned their first-ever win against the Vegas Golden Knights, as the Hawks’ second line continues to sizzle.
The Blackhawks overcame a two-goal deficit in the first period, defeating the Golden Knights for the first time since Vegas entered the league two seasons ago.
The Hawks had been 0-5-2 heading into the contest against the Golden Knights.
“It was a good confidence boost,” Coach Jeremy Colliton said. “[Vegas is] a good team — they’ll be a good team this year, no question — and we took two points in their barn.”
Ever since Colliton tweaked his defensive-zone scheme four games ago, the Hawks’ offense has been on an absolute tear — particularly, the Hawks’ second line of Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Alex Debrincat.
“All it is is, our weak side forward, we pushed him up higher in defensive zone coverage,” Colliton said. “Before, we had four low a lot of times, to try and overload in certain situations. That’s good, it gets you out of D-zone, but the problem is when you win the puck back, a lot of times you’re very close together and it’s harder to make clean plays, it’s harder to exit with space to make plays.”
This approach has allowed the Hawks to utilize their speed through the neutral zone and generate crisper breakouts from their own end. Extra space is always beneficial for creative players; and for players like Patrick Kane, it’s a devastating weapon to add to his arsenal.
Down 2-0 early, Kane perfectly illustrated the benefit of having the weak-side forward high. Had Kane been down low in the defensive zone, he would not have been in such a perfect position for his scorching one-timer, which cut Vegas’ lead in half at a crucial point in the game.
The complexion of the game changed drastically in the second period, when Vegas’ Alex Tuch seemingly restored the Knights’ two-goal lead with a wrister past goalie Corey Crawford. Instead, Blackhawks defensemen Calvin De Haan and Erik Gustafsson stunned the Golden Knights by scoring back-to-back goals immediately after Tuch’s goal was overturned via video review, giving the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
After being physically targeted by Vegas all night, Hawks rookie Kirby Dach would get the last laugh by scoring his third goal of the year to make it 4-2. The goal was a prime example as to why many hockey analysts lauded Dach’s superior puck-handling skills leading up to the draft.
Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome would also continue his hot streak by scoring a gorgeous breakaway goal, courtesy of Alex Debrincat. In addition to Patrick Kane, the Hawks’ second line has combined for 24 points in their last four games; with Kane extending his personal point streak to seven games.
After a disappointing October, the Hawks are now 4-1-2 midway through November. Last night’s win marked the first time the Blackhawks have reached .500 this season.
Although their recent record is encouraging, the Hawks continue to be badly outshot in games, with Vegas finishing with a 42-26 advantage last night. The Hawks have had a habit of relying too heavily on goalies Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford, who have both played spectacularly this year.
Rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist was sent back to Rockford this morning, which may indicate the return of injured defenseman Connor Murphy. Regardless of whether his play was a factor, Boqvist was the only defenseman who would not have to clear waivers in order to be sent down. The rookie played six games, averaging 14.27 minutes of ice time. He scored one goal and finished with an even +/- rating.
The Blackhawks will have a two-day rest before facing the Nashville Predators, who had delivered a 3-0 shutout loss in their last meeting between the two teams.