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Hawks Hits: Blackhawks Win The 'Celebrini Bowl' Over Sharks in Shootout

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
January 17, 2024

Before tonight’s game between the 31st-place Chicago Blackhawks and the 32nd-place San Jose Sharks, it felt as if there were two ways the contest would go: either it would be a sloppy, unwatchable game between two tanking teams, or it would be a chaotic, whirlwind of a game.

It was the latter.

In a seemingly one-sided effort, the Blackhawks came away with a 2-1 shootout win over the Sharks with a little puck luck and a nine-round shootout victory.

Cole Guttman got the Blackhawks on the board first in the game with a power-play goal that was part skill and part luck, having the wherewithal to try to make a play on the puck between his legs but also getting the fortunate bounce off a Sharks defender and behind Mackenzie Blackwood. Guttman’s fourth of the season gave the Blackhawks their sixth-straight first goal of the game and a 1-0 lead.

Chicago would hold that 1-0 lead until midway through the third period when Petr Mrazek’s shutout bid was busted by former Blackhawk Ryan Carpenter. The 1-1 game would stay that way through the remainder of the third period, but the Blackhawks made a concerted push in the final minutes, led by Philipp Kurashev trying to get the late game-winning goal. It wasn’t meant to be, and the game would head to overtime.

In the extra period, the Blackhawks would get a power-play opportunity thanks to Kurahsev drawing a penalty but wouldn’t be able to convert on the 4-on-3 advantage. With neither team finding the winner, the two worst teams in the NHL would head to the shootout…and what a shootout it was.

Back and forth, both teams went with Kevin Lebanc giving the Sharks the advantage, only to have Rem Pitlick keep the Blackhawks’ hopes alive. Jason Dickinson had a puck squeak through Blackwood’s pads but didn’t have enough steam to cross the goal line completely. Three rounds later, Zach Sanford had Blackwood beat but put the puck off the post, and it would trickle parallel to the goal line. It seemed the puck luck had run out on the Blackhawks, but the next round saw Boris Katchouk get the upper hand in the shootout, and Mrazek shut the door on Filip Zadina for the 2-1 shootout win.

Mrazek stopped 37 of 38 San Jose shots tonight to earn his 11th win of the season. With the win, the Blackhawks are now 13-29-2 on the season with 28 points in the standings, four points clear of the Sharks in last place and two points behind the Ottawa Senators.

Jay: Zaitsev Leaves Game as Blackhawks Suffer Another Injury

Another game, another Blackhawk down. 

Just when it seemed like the arrow was pointing up in terms of the Hawks’ injury situation, Nikita Zaitsev left Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win vs the Sharks, playing only 8:46. This injury comes on the heels of Connor Murphy missing the game with a lower-body injury. 

Before this game, Zaitsev had averaged 16:13 per game and was even getting ice time on the power play and penalty kill units. 

While he began his Chicago career as a bit of a punchline, he’s proven to be a steady, veteran presence who rose to the occasion of filling in for injured Hawks like Seth Jones, Alex Vlasic, and others. Zaitsev is one of three Blackhawks defensemen with a plus rating, along with Vlasic and Jaycob Megna, who has been on the Hawks for seven games. 

Isaak Phillips is still part of the Blackhawks’ NHL roster, despite not playing since January 7th. It’s safe to assume that if Murphy or Zaitsev can’t return for Wednesday’s game vs the Sabres, Phillips will jump into the lineup. 

Greg: Baby Steps for the Power Play

The Blackhawks’ power play has not been great this season, even when the likes of Connor Bedard, Tyler Johnson, and Taylor Hall were healthy. They entered tonight’s tilt with a 12.8 conversion rate, which was 31st in the league. Only the Philadelphia Flyers are worse at 12.2%. They hadn’t scored in seven straight guys, last racking up a power-play tally on Jan. 7 against the Calgary Flames.

Head coach Luke Richardson spent much of Friday’s practice working on the power play, especially on zone entries. However, in the last game against the Dallas Stars, they had just one four-minute power play and did very little with it. The man advantage looked much better against the Sharks. Yes, it helps that San Jose has the worst penalty kill in the league, but the Blackhawks are in no position to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The Blackhawks got two power-play chances in the first period. The first opportunity had a ton of zone time but just one shot on goal. Guttman scored on the second try, with a little help from Mario Ferraro’s skate. Again, they will take whatever they can get at this point.

A third opportunity was given early in the second period. Much like with the first try, the Blackhawks had the puck in the zone a lot but could not generate many chances. They got a 4-on-3 power play 45 seconds into overtime. Phillip Kurashev, who drew the penalty, was all over the ice during the chance, but they could not end the game.

They scored the goal on eight total shots. Success against the worst penalty kill in the league is still a success. Hopefully, the Blackhawks can use this positive step to build some momentum and get the man advantage producing more before the All-Star break.

Mario: Blackhawks Score First, Again!

With Cole Guttman’s first period power-play goal, the Blackhawks have scored the opening goal of the game in their last six contests. It also marked the 25th time this season that Chicago has put the first goal up on the board. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, prior to tonight, they have only been able to convert eight of those prior 24 first goals of the game into victorious efforts.

Thanks to the shootout efforts of Rem Pitlick, Boris Katchouk, and Petr Mrazek, the Blackhawks now have nine wins this season when scoring the first goal of the game. Moving them now into a three-way tie for the second-fewest wins when scoring first (9), alongside the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils.

Chicago ranks fifth in the NHL in games where they have scored the first goal of the contest, with 25 so far this season. The other four ahead of them are the Canucks (30), Bruins (26), Rangers (26), and Penguins (26), and all four of them have won at least 16 of their games where they have scored first with the Canucks having won 23 of them.

Chalk it up to another one of those anomaly stats for the Blackhawks over the past two seasons that seemingly just doesn’t make sense.

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