The Chicago Blackhawks entered Friday’s matinee a team in turmoil. Taylor Hall is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Andreas Athanasiou remains sidelined with an injury. And most of all, the mysterious absence of Corey Perry continues to be a hot topic. Head coach Luke Richardson refused to comment on the situation ahead of the game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, another team that always seems to be in some sort of turmoil, made their only appearance on United Center ice this afternoon. The Blackhawks were looking to sweep the two-game season series after a 4-1 win in Toronto back in October. The speed and talent gap between these two teams were glaring, but the Blackhawks gave the effort that Richardson had been begging for. In the end, the home team erased a 3-1 deficit and won 4-3 in a crazy overtime.
The home got off to another slow start, giving up seven of the first eight shots of the game. Seven minutes in, former Blackhawk Max Domi made a nice cross-ice feed to Nick Robertson, who roofed the puck up and over Arvid Soderblom. Jason Dickinson answered less than a minute later with his second goal in as many periods. The veteran forward has three goals and seven points in his last nine games.
The start of the second period was a disaster. Shortly after Tyler Johnson erased a power play with a tripping call, Calle Jarnkrok got inside position and Alex Vlasic for an easy tap-in goal. Just over a minute later, our old friend Jake McCabe found Ryan Reaves alone in the slot for another uncontested goal and a 3-1 Maple Leafs lead.
Dickinson struck again later in the second period when a loose puck found him at the front of the net, and he beat Ilya Samsonov to the short side. This goal changed the momentum of the game as the Blackhawks started to get sustained offensive zone time and pressure. The last five or six minutes of the second period were some of the best hockey the team has played in quite some time.
Richardson sent the Dickinson line out to start the third period, and it took him all of 14 seconds to net his first career hat trick and tie the game at 3-3.
Jay: Jason Dickinson has received Luke Richardson’s message
All season long, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson has preached simplicity. Get the puck in deep, skate north and south, put pucks on net. No Hawk has put out that style of play as consistently as Jason Dickinson, whose effort were rewarded with a hat trick Friday.
The first of his three goals vs Toronto is just an example that you can use your skill and speed while keeping the game simple.
He corralled a puck along the boards, used a toe-drag to maneuver the puck away from our beloved Jake McCabe, and put the puck on net.
On his second goal of the afternoon, Dickinson once again utilized his toe-drag to gain better control of the puck, this time in close.
For the hat trick, which came 15 seconds into the third, Dickinson found the puck on his blade right in the slot. Why? Because his line mates, despite not having the puck, were aggressively stick checking, forechecking, and making it difficult for the Leafs to exit their own zone.
During the second intermission, color analyst Troy Murray was praising the approach of Foligno-Dickinson-Anderson line. Murray praised the trio for not doing anything “fancy,” and stressed that the rest of the team, including Connor Bedard, who Murray called out for a turnover, need to go to school and get the message.
Get the puck in, drive the net, then use your skill. It’s so simple. One does not have to sacrifice skill for simplicity. When these things work in tandem, the results will come.
“Doing the right things all leads to great feelings in this locker room,” Dickinson said after the game.
Richardson likes to use video to show his players what works and what doesn’t work in the NHL. Rest assured all three Dickinson goals will be featured in their next meetings.
Greg: Joey Anderson and Cole Guttman Earn More Ice Time
The last few days around Blackhawks’ camp have been strange. There have been season-ending injuries, mysterious scratches, and a blowout to a team that had lost nine games in a row. With the glaring holes in the roster, Cole Guttman and Joey Anderson were recalled from the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday.
Guttman made the team out of training camp and scored against the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night but was sent down after three games. Joey Anderson has been fantastic in the AHL. At the time of his recall, he led the IceHogs with seven goals, nine assists, and 16 points.
I asked Richardson before today’s game if having two guys looking to stay in the NHL inserted into the lineup might energize a team coming off one of their worst efforts of the season.
“We need that right now,” Richardson said. “In the past, they have both shown they can do a really good job for us. They’re familiar with us, which really helps, and we’re familiar with them. We’re really excited to see what kind of energy they can bring. They’re playing excellent hockey right now, and that’s what we need here. We need to get back on top of things. Obviously, we need a more consistent game, and we hope they will give us a bit of a charge today.”
Anderson made an immediate impact with the primary assist on Dickinson’s first-period goal. He was a factor in Dickinson’s second goal. Even though he was not credited with a point, he got in hard on the forecheck, which caused the puck to find Dickinson.
He was on the ice for all three Dickinson goals, had the assist, and was a plus-3. He played a simple and hard brand of hockey, something that has been missing for the last few games.
Guttman was not as effective as Anderson, but his game got stronger as the contest wore on. He was back on the “Ex Bolts” line with Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh. In the third period, he passed up a shooting attempt but later got off a spin-o-rama shot that just missed the far post. He had two shot attempts, a blocked shot and won five of his nine faceoffs on the day.
Mario: Blackhawks Recover With Strong Finishes to Each Period
A lot has been made about the Blackhawks’ starts to games and starts to individual periods this year. They have largely been slow to start games this season and head coach Luke Richardson has regularly turned to players like Nick Foligno, Corey Perry, and Jason Dickinson to give the team some jump to begin those periods of play, whether they are together on a line or not. Today’s game got off to a horrible start with the Maple Leafs dominating play with a 7-1 shots on goal advantage and a 1-0 lead just over seven minutes into the game. But the theme of the night was the response from the Blackhawks.
Following the rough start, Jason Dickinson was there at the end of the first period to tie the game and start turning the tides the other way for Chicago.
But the second period was another horrible start for Chicago with a powerplay that the Blackhawks started the period with being negated just 22 seconds in and the Maple Leafs scoring at 4-on-4 just 55 seconds after that. Two make matters worse, two minutes later the Leafs are up 3-1 thanks to a Ryan friggin’ Reaves goal. Things could have easily gone off the rails from there but the Blackhawks did not fold. The pressure was amped-up from Chicago late into the second period and it was Dickinson for the second time giving the Blackhawks life in the game with the 3-2 goal.
A high-pressure finish to the second period carried over into the beginning of the third period as it would be Dickinson getting on the board for the third time, scoring his first NHL hat-trick on a play that was caused by Nick Foligno working hard on a forecheck to cause a turnover. Chicago ran their momentum through the third period of the tied game into a chaotic overtime period that ended with a beneficial bounce going Chicago’s way and Kevin Korchinski finding the game-winner.
It’s not a recipe to follow every night, having to chase the game consistently, but this was a game where the Blackhawks were able to not only string-together good stretches of play doing the little things right, but they were then rewarded for it. The way they ended periods today, and the way they started the third period, should be shown in video sessions all season long to remind them what good can come from playing with purpose in a simplified game.
Get Chicago's Best Sports Content In Your Inbox!
Become a smarter Chicago sports fan with the latest game recaps, analysis and exclusive content from CHGO’s writers and podcasters!
Just drop your email below!