Oduya's blast caps furious rally by Blackhawks


Oduya's blast caps furious rally by Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya has had several good games since joining the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline. He had a great one on Friday.

Oduya had a goal and an assist, his first of each in his new uniform, as the Blackhawks came back to beat the New York Rangers 4-3 at the United Center. The Blackhawks, who were down 2-1 with about seven minutes left in regulation, remain in sixth place in the West with 81 points, four behind fifth-place Nashville.

Oduya has definitely brought balance to a Blackhawks defense that needed another veteran presence. Just 62 seconds after Patrick Sharp scored his 26th on a pretty tic-tac-toe play with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, Oduyas slapshot put the Blackhawks ahead 3-2.

He was unbelievable tonight, Kane said of Oduya. Forwards love to play with a guy like that who can make those plays and get you the puck with speed. He was great tonight and definitely our best player.

Oduya said on a team like this with such high skill you try to feed as many pucks to the forwards as you can. On the other hand I still try to play good defensively, be responsible and break up plays and use my skating. Hopefully I can jump into some more plays and create more offense.

Oduyas puck moving has been strong. And his move to shake a Rangers defenseman and ensuing shot which was redirected by Andrew Shaw for his seventh this season was what the Blackhawks needed at the time. But coach Joel Quenneville was as happy with Oduya at the other end.

The way he defends is what we appreciate. He kills plays quick in the puck areas and supports the attack, Quenneville said. (All of his games) have been good but that might have been the best.

Still, it took a while to get a few goals against the Rangers. Be it their tight defensive game or stellar goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers werent giving up much for a while. Then the Blackhawks caught a few breaks and found a few openings en route to scoring three in the final seven minutes of regulation.

(Hes a) tough goaltender, one of the best in the league. Hes tough to even get chances on; he smothers everything, Kane said of Lundqvist. For us to get a win against him, a tough game like that when youre down 2-1 with that much time left, I think it pumps everyone up and gives us some confidence.

Getting confidence is one thing. Riding the wave of it for a while is another, and with only 13 games left the Blackhawks need to do just that. And they need to take advantage when they get bounces and breaks.

Much like they did Friday night.

Once we get out of trying to make a better play and simplify and put pucks there, hopefully we get a favorable bounce, Quenneville said. And we got a couple (tonight).

Five Things from Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: Richard Panik stays hot

Five Things from Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: Richard Panik stays hot

This Five Things was headed for a lot of negativity before the final three minutes of regulation. But thanks to the Blackhawks’ third-period comeback, this one won’t sting as much as Friday’s installment.

So while you all celebrate the Cubs going to a World Series, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1. Waking up just in time. The Maple Leafs haven’t played their best hockey in third periods – entering Saturday’s game, they’d been outscored 6-1 in that frame. But for 17-plus minutes of the third it didn’t look like the Blackhawks were going to take advantage of that stat. But they would, salvaging a point out of nowhere with two goals within a minute (Artem Anisimov at 17:32 and Richard Panik at 18:32). Better late than never.

2. The Richard Panik show continues. The forward said he doesn’t think about Toronto anymore, that it’s all about the team he’s with now. But looking at his celebration on his game-tying goal late in the third period, there had to be a little motivation to score against the Leafs, right? The Blackhawks don’t care who the opponent is, and Panik now has six goals to start the season.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Power play fizzles. Ah, thought we were going to talk about the other special teams? In a second. The bigger problem on Saturday was the Blackhawks’ advantage, on which they went 0-for-6. It took until overtime, when their fifth power play was a 4-on-3 for them to really generate anything against the Leafs.

4. Late-period goals hurt. The Blackhawks looked set to enter first intermission with a 1-0 lead but Tyler Bozak scored with just 14 seconds remaining. They could’ve had a 2-2 tie entering the second intermission but James van Riemsdyk scored with 1:44 remaining in the second. Again, the Blackhawks overcame that. But coach Joel Quenneville talked about the loss of momentum in games, and here are two examples of it.

5. The Auston Matthews show. The Leafs phenom didn’t score a goal on Saturday but there’s no doubt he had his effect. His speed was especially on display on William Nylander’s goal; Matthews drew several Blackhawks and Nylander had a rather open net on the rebound.

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

As the clock ticked down to under three minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks were looking at more negatives than positives.

Their power play wasn’t working. Their penalty kill was 1-for-2 and they were trailing 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But just when it looked like the Blackhawks were headed for their second consecutive loss, they pulled out a comeback.

Richard Panik scored the game-tying goal against his former team and Artemi Panarin scored the shootout winner as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Leafs 5-4 on Saturday night.

Tyler Motte scored his second goal in as many nights and Artem Anisimov had two goals. Scott Darling stopped 30 of 34 shots through regulation and overtime. The victory didn’t erase some of the issues the Blackhawks still have, some of which showed in this one, too. But it brought some needed relief.

“It was a big win in a lot of different ways,” said Duncan Keith, who had two assists, including the primary one on Panik’s goal. “I know it’s still early but I think we were able to put some pressure on there. And anytime you get big goals like that late in the game when they’re needed, it’s a confidence boost and something we can build off.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The end looked like it was going to be frustrating, especially after William Nylander’s second goal of the night gave the Leafs a 4-2 lead about five minutes into the third. But Anisimov scored his second goal of the evening with 2:28 remaining to pull the Blackhawks to within 4-3. Just one minute later, Panik scored his sixth of the season to tie it 4-4.

Panarin’s shot in round three of the shootout, coupled with Darling stopping Mitchell Marner’s wrist shot, sealed it.

“Obviously we were down 4-2 and came back against a great team. That helps our confidence,” Panik said. “Everybody’s pumped about a win so that’s a good sign.”

The Blackhawks will take it but they know they had their problems in this one. Their power play went 0-for-6. That included two 4-on-3 opportunities in overtime. They allowed another goal on their penalty kill, although they did snuff out another Toronto power-play opportunity in the third period.

“It’s one,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We need several, several, several to get excited. But certainly that was, we’ll say, timely.”

The Blackhawks still have a long way to go this season. That penalty kill still needs work. They want more consistent play. But considering how this was looking with about three minutes remaining in regulation, they’ll take it.

“We’re certainly fortunate to come back in a game like that,” Quenneville said. “There have been a lot of comebacks in the league this year and we’ve given up some leads ourselves. That was a little different way of going about it. There are some positives but more so how we played in the third period. But we still lose a lot of momentum in the game. That’s what we’ve got to shore up.”