Getting points any way possible: that’s pretty much any team’s mantra at any point of a season but when missing a top player, it’s even more so. The Blackhawks are in that boat right now, trying to gather as may points as they can while Jonathan Toews heals from his upper-body injury.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Blackhawks found a way. Yes, that start was dismal. We’ll get to that in a second. But the end result was a positive again as the Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in overtime. So before we call it a night, here are Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks’ victory.
1. Another awful start. Yeah, let’s just get this one out of the way. This was actually to a new level of lousy compared to the Blackhawks’ previous bad starts. For the first few minutes the Blackhawks couldn’t even get the puck to the red line. Credit the Devils for some of that – they were playing the type of road period that’s necessary – but the Blackhawks couldn’t get out of their own way. It was a surprise they finished the first 20 minutes down by just one goal. Well, actually not so much when you consider what Corey Crawford’s done this season, and did again on Thursday.
2. The Kruger line strikes again. While the top two lines struggle to find offense, the Dennis Rasmussen-Kruger-Richard Panik line found it again. This time it was Kruger, with a slick snipe that beat Cory Schneider and tied the game 1-1 just 1:02 into the second period. Rasmussen had his second assist in as many nights; this pass wasn’t the lengthy one he threw Panik on Tuesday, but was just as effective. And for Kruger, getting his second of the season was pleasant. “You never know what role you're going to play and if you're healthy and stuff like that, you want to score as many as you can. But it feels nice to chip in,” Kruger said.
3. Shooting isn’t so bad. From the second period on, the Blackhawks were buying more into the shoot-whenever-you-can mentality. It worked. First it was Anisimov shooting and then following his own shot for a goal. Hjalmarsson had a quick shot off a loose puck and also scored. The Blackhawks, who had just nine shots in the first period, had 15 in the second. They also had three goals. Who woulda thunk it?
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Power play progress? Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mind it, despite it going 0-for-4 against the Devils. The Blackhawks have just one power-play goal since Nov. 19 but Quenneville was encouraged by the zone time the Blackhawks got on Thursday night. That was evident on their fourth one, although they didn’t get a shot on it. Still, Quenneville said, “if we get that zone time, we’ll find a way to hit the back of the net.”
5. Marian Hossa finishes. Again. We shouldn’t be shocked anymore, should we? Hossa sliced through the middle and just tried to shoot through bodies. It worked, as he netted his fourth game-winning goal of the season. Niklas Hjalmarsson summed up Hossa best: “He seems to have found the fountain of youth. He’s looking better and stronger than ever. Whatever he’s doing, I’m just going to follow and do the same thing.”