Chicago Blackhawks Hang On Against Flames for Third Straight Win

In a game in which they started off great but finished ugly, the Blackhawks continued their up-and-down season with a win against the Calgary Flames last night. It was the third straight victory for Chicago, bringing their overall record to 18-17-6 — one game over .500 at the exact midway point of the season. With 42 points, the Hawks now sit 4 points below Edmonton for the last wild card spot; and 5 points above last place San Jose in the West.

Ironically, the Hawks’ three-game winning streak began the day after it was announced that long-time veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook and newly-acquired veteran defenseman Calvin de Haan would both require surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Calvin de Haan re-injured the same shoulder that was surgically repaired in the off-season. Brent Seabrook will not only require surgery on his right shoulder, but will also undergo surgery on both hips in the months to follow.

For a team already without veterans Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, and Drake Caggiula, it was imperative for the Hawks’ star players to stop the bleeding. Patrick Kane and Robin Lehner — the Hawks’ two most consistent players this season — would more than oblige.

Kane continued his red-hot season by assisting on the first two goals, feeding Olli Maatta to open the scoring and Alex Debrincat on the power play soon after. Kane then added a goal of his own as he carved through the Calgary defense, snapping a shot past goalie David Rittich to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.

Dylan Strome would add to the Hawks’ lead midway through the second period after a nifty cross-ice play by Alex Debrincat. While in transition through the neutral zone, Debrincat floated a perfect backhand saucer pass over the stick of Calgary defenseman Noah Hanifin’s stick, hitting Strome in stride to give the Hawks a 4-0 lead. Calgary would not go quietly however, as Sam Bennett would break Lehner’s shutout bid with just six seconds remaining in the second, cutting the deficit to three. Bennett was especially noticeable in this game, registering 6 hits, including a massive hit on Patrick Kane.

With less than five minutes to go in the game and up by three goals, the Hawks were seemingly cruising to an easy victory until ex-Blackhawk Michal Frolik capitalized on a Duncan Keith turnover, scoring a short-handed goal. Keith had lost the puck from behind the Hawks’ net after being pressured by Calgary’s Elias Lindholm. Sean Monahan would really make things interesting a little over a minute later, scoring with an extra attacker for Calgary to make it 4-3 with just over three minutes remaining.

In the frantic waning seconds of the game and with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk pounding the doorstep, Patrick Kane would once again save the day and enter the history books by potting his second goal of the game on an empty net to seal the victory. It was the 378th goal of Kane’s career, which elevated him over Blackhawks legend Denis Savard for 4th most goals in franchise history. In addition, no player has accumulated more points in the NHL within the last decade than Patrick Kane (802), including Sidney Crosby (788) and Alex Ovechkin (781).

“I think you’ve got to play on good teams, you’ve got to play with good players, you’ve obviously got to be healthy, got to be consistent,” Kane said.” It’s been a fun 10 years. Looking forward to see what the next decade brings here.”

In addition to Kane, the win would not have been possible without goaltender Robin Lehner. Lehner has finally solidified himself over Corey Crawford as the number one goalie, having started and won in 5 of the last 6 games. Last night, Lehner made 41 saves on 44 shots against, including a save-of-the-year candidate on Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.

“I think we had one of our best 50 minutes of the game, I think,” Lehner said. “They took over and had quite a bit. I think we gave them three goals today, small details, but you know, we won. We stuck with it again, that’s kind of the team right now, we’re building, getting better and better. We’re not perfect, so we’ve got some more stuff to learn here but a hell of a win.”

Unless otherwise determined by fan voting, Kane will be the lone representative for the Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2020 All-Star Game on January 25th. It will the Kane’s ninth appearance. Jonathan Toews is still in the running to be voted into the All-Star game as the “Last Men in” candidate for the Hawks, with voting scheduled to close at 11:59 p.m. ET on January 10th.

The Blackhawks will end their three-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks this Thursday, before beginning a four-game home stand, including a rematch against Calgary on January 7th. The team will be without forward Brandon Saad for at least two more weeks, as he recovers from an ankle injury. It is unknown when Andrew Shaw and/or Drake Caggiula will return, as both are still recovering from concussions.

 

 

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