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Hawks Hits: Bedard, Blackhawks Snap Losing Streak with Win Over Senators

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
February 17, 2024

It just feels nice to win one.

The Chicago Blackhawks snapped an eight-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on the backs of Petr Mrazek and Connor Bedard. Since returning to the lineup, Bedard has been able to put a spark back into the Blackhawks locker room and has added an element of danger to a roster that was devoid of any scoring threats or even someone who could facilitate offense at a high-danger level.

With the recent string of bad starts to games, the Blackhawks got off to a good one with an advantage in shots on goal at the end of the opening 20 minutes and a tied 1-1 game. CHGO’s own Nick Foligno opened the scoring for the Blackhawks with a puck going in off of his shin pads after being setup by Bedard and Philipp Kurashev.

The Senators tied the game before the end of the first period and took a 2-1 lead in the second period, a period where they out-shot the Blackhawks 22-6. Tim Stützle scored the game-tying goal and Luke Richardson’s nephew Jakob Chychrun scored the go-ahead goal at the time for Ottawa. But it would be Bedard tying the game in the second period with a less-than-Bedardian shot that trickled through the legs of Jones Korpisalo.

Hey, not all goals are highlight-reel goals.

It appeared that Bedard had put the Blackhawks ahead late in the third period with what would have been a truly highlight-reel goal, but the play was challenged for offsides and it was overturned. The United Center was beside itself. For a team that only averaged 1.2 goals per game while Bedard was out, getting not only a second goal in the game but a third one as well felt like a mountain they had not been able to climb for over a month. Thankfully, Jason Dickinson came through with just under two minutes to play on a rebound effort to get the 3-2 goal that actually counted.

Chicago was able to hold the fort for the final push from the Senators and get the win to snap their eight-game skid. Petr Mrazek was fantastic today, stopping 40 of 42 shots faced and earning his 13th win of the season. With his 40-save performance tonight, Mrazek now has a .900 save-percentage or better in 10 of his last 13 starts since January 7.

The Blackhawks are still in last-place in the NHL, but a win feels good tonight. They are on the road for their only road game of the month on Monday night, taking on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jay: Luke Richardson Holding Vets and Rookies Accountable

Believe it or not, this is NOT about Lukas Reichel, who was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. This is about Kevin Korchinski, who was benched for the second half of the second period. Korchinski’s last shift in second came with 11:47 left in the frame. He wouldn’t see the ice again until the third period began. 

During the second period intermission report, radio analyst Troy Murray mentioned that Korchinski had to make better defensive decisions, which Richardson confirmed postgame. 

He returned 1:48 into the third period, where Korchinski seemed to make much better (and safer) decisions with the puck. 

Luke Richardson explains the decision to bench Kevin Korchinski in the second period

What I like about Richardson’s approach is that he’s not a “dog house” style coach. He’ll send his messages, be it a period, a game, or a handful of games, and allow his players to re-earn their spots. It also illustrates to future Blackhawks, like Frank Nazar, Oliver Moore or whoever your favorite prospect might be, that no one has a free pass, regardless of draft stature. 

Korchinski had nine shifts in the first, three shifts in second, then jumped right back in for seven shifts in the third. 

“He reacted well,” Richardson said after the game. “He made some really good passes in the third period, so that’s the growth of a young guy.”

Message delivered. Message received. Carry on. 

Greg: Being Aggressive with the Puck is Good

Being aggressive with the puck and having urgency to shoot has been one of the biggest problems for the Blackhawks all season long. Too many times, we have seen them gain the zone, then cycle behind the net, allowing the defense to set up and prevent any kind of good look. Or a forward looks to make the extra pass instead of taking an open shot, giving up a scoring chance.

The Blackhawks came out aggressive on Saturday afternoon. Kevin Korchinski, one of the biggest offenders of looking off the shot for a pass, got the puck on net in the opening seconds of the game. His first of two in the opening frames. The home team only got eight pucks to the net in the first period, but they had 21 shot attempts. This was a refreshing change from what we’ve been seeing over the past few games.

The ice was tilted against the Blackhawks in the middle frame. They had a penalty called against them during the opening shift, and they couldn’t get control back. They had just 10 shot attempts at 5v5 because they rarely had the puck. They had 13 5v5 shot attempts during the final period. The aggressive first period helped them get 43 5v5 shot attempts, a slight improvement from their 41.3 average on the season.

Seth Jones led the way with seven shot attempts. Bedard had six, while Jason Dickinson and Taylor Raddysh had five. Get puck. Shoot puck. Sometimes the puck goes in.

Mario: Blackhawks get out to better start vs. Sens

For the past fews games, the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the opening 20 minutes of action. On Thursday night, they allowed the first goal of the game on the first shot of the game from Sidney Crosby and found themselves down 2-0 going into the first intermission. On Tuesday night, it took until the final minute of the first period for Chicago to get their first shot on goal and were out-shot in the period 12-2 by the Vancouver Canucks. They also trailed 1-0 heading into the locker room on Tuesday night and Nick Foligno told us in his postgame appearance that Luke Richardson “blasted” the team following that effort.

Before the game this afternoon, Richardson said the early start time should benefit his team. “You don’t have that long wait for the game to start, guys are ready to go and chomping at the bit to start here.”

They definitely looked ready to go in the opening 20 minutes this afternoon with an 8-7 shots on goal advantage going into the first intermission and having a 1-1 tie. Nick Foligno opened the scoring with his 12th goal of the season to give the Blackhawks the 1-0 lead before Tim Stützle netted the equalizer. Chicago was quick to get the puck on net and utilizing traffic in front of Joonas Korpisalo early in the game, two things Richardson and the team have preached constantly this season that they need to do more often.

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