Blackhawks score the first goal and it was Patrick Kane. No, seriously.
It’s only happened six times this season. More times than Patrick Kane has scored goals this season. The Blackhawks actually started the game with a lead tonight by netting the first goal of the first period against then equally-lowly Blue Jackets.
Patrick Kane scored the opening goal, his fifth goal of the season, and boy did he need it.
Heading into the game tonight, the Blackhawks had a 3-0-2 record when they scored the game’s first goal. Hoping to improve that record, it was Kane again getting the Chicago offense going by setting up Max Domi.
It was only the second time this season the Blackhawks have had a 2-0 lead after the first period (October 25 vs Florida), unsurprisingly.
Luke Richardson and the Blackhawks players have been relentlessly asked about the poor starts to games and not being able to get out to the game’s first lead. You could see the momentum the team was playing with after getting the first two goals of the game, eventually getting out to a 4-0 lead.
It’s amazing what just a little bit of confidence and not having to chase the game can do for this Blackhawks squad. They are now 4-0-2 in the six games they have scored the first goal.
Alex Stalock returns to the net
Oh, how I have missed the Alex Stalock Experience.
In his first game back since November 1 after being out with a concussion, Stalock helped backstop the Blackhawks to their first win since December 3. Making 27 saves, Stalock tallied his fourth of the season, first since an October 25 win over the Panthers, now with a 4-2-1 record.
He also mixed things up a bit with the Blue Jackets…
Having Stalock back in the fold for the Blackhawks is a boost in the locker room and maybe, just maybe, a boost on the ice as well. For as good as Arvid Söderblom played in his starts most nights for Chicago, the plan for him was to be in Rockford for as much of this season as possible. Stalock has played just as good or better, dare I say, in his starts this season. It may not always be the smoothest sailing with Stalock in net, but at least it gives use bit of entertainment.
And maybe a late-round pick later this season. Who knows?
Blackhawks NEEDED a win like this
The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets entered tonight on the two worst active losing streaks in the league with Columbus having lost their last five games and Chicago losing their prior eight games in-a-row. Someone had to win this one, so why not have it be the Blackhawks?
After getting the first goal of the game from Patrick Kane and then having him help extend that lead to a 2-0 first period advantage, the Blackhawks were able to play loose and play their game, dictating the play for the majority of the first-half of the contest.
Andreas Athanasiou ended an 11-game goal-drought when he netted the 3-0 goal in the first period for the Blackhawks. Athanasiou has been playing just as we expected him to play this season. He is exciting on most of his chances to score, but the actual scoring doesn’t happen. Good to see him bury one.
Also getting on the scoresheet tonight was Taylor Raddysh, who joined the double-digit goal club with his 10th goal of the season, which made it a 4-0 game in the opening frame.
As you’ll see in the caption from NBC Sports Chicago, a fair question about the Columbus’ effort in the first period. They seemed ready to get the hell out of Chicago just about 15 minutes into the 60-minute hockey game, and the Blackhawks took advantage.
As they should.
No one is saying that these teams are two juggernauts and that the result and efforts tonight were “shocking.” Again, someone had to win this game. But for the Blackhawks to end their eight-game skid with this kind of result is a great boost for them heading into the Christmas holiday mini-break.
From Christmas 2021 to Christmas 2022, Blackhawks have the third-fewest points in the NHL over the calendar year with 62, only ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers (61) and Anaheim Ducks (57). So while we are focused on the tank this season, it’s good (?) to know that the Blackhawks have been set up for Connor Bedard for over a year.
One good stat to end on tonight: 92-8-5. That’s the Blackhawks’ record when both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane score a goal. They did so tonight in the 5-2 win, combining for their 300th goal in their careers together.