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The Chicago Blackhawks were back on the United Center ice just one night after losing to the Buffalo Sabres and having a rough travel night back home. The New York Islanders, who have been in town since Thursday, were waiting for them at the United Center. Tonight’s matchup featured two teams who have been struggling of late. The Blackhawks have scored only four goals in their last five games. Meanwhile, the Islanders have just three wins in their previous 10 games and entered the game three points out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The back-and-forth affair ended with the home team squeaking out a 4-3 overtime victory.
The Blackhawks got off to a great start, with lots of pressure and a handful of scoring chances. It took the Islanders 6:09 to get their first shot on goal, but it was worth the wait as Brock Nelson beat Petr Mrazek for his 20th goal of the season.
Boris Katchouk put some life back into the United Center by tying the game at 18:07 of the second period. He got in behind the defense, but Ilya Sorokin stopped his backhand shot. Katchouk followed the rebound into the corner, skated it back to the high slot, and then used a Zach Sanford scene to beat Sorokin for his fifth goal.
Joey Anderson gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead just 1:07 later by finishing off an odd-man rush with Colin Blackwell. This marked the first time the Blackhawks have scored more than one goal in a game since they lit the lamp four times against the Calgary Flames on Jan. 7.
Jason Dickinson gave the Blackhawks a big insurance goal early in the third period. He passed to Katchouk, then headed straight for the net, where he got the return pass and tapped into the net for his career-high 15th goal.
Less than two minutes later, Bo Horvat beat Mrazek to the short side to bring the Islanders back to within a goal. Kyle Palmeri tied the game six minutes later by beating Mrazek and Isaak Phillips to the far post with a wraparound shot from behind the net.
Seth Jones needed just 22 seconds of overtime to score his first goal of the season and send the Blackhawks home winners. A gutsy effort was rewarded with a big win.
Jay: Lukas Reichel Refusing to Take Charge
Lukas Reichel still has not gotten the message.
As Greg wrote below, the strategy in this game was clearly to get the puck on net. The Hawks got out to an 8-0 shot lead, then a 10-2 shot lead, before the Islanders narrowed the gap toward the end of the first period. The Hawks still finished the frame with 12 shots on goal. Look at Seth Jones’ OT winner. Just put the damn puck on net.
In Friday night’s win, every…single…Blackhawk managed a shot attempt…aside from Reichel.
How is that possible?
He is, without a doubt, the most skilled forward on the Blackhawks roster right now. He’s faster, shifter, and has better hands than every forward in the lineup. He just refuses to attack.
Two moments come to mind tonight…both in the third period.
The first moment came while Reichel led a 3-on-2 rush. He dished the puck to Jason Dickinson, then just skated past the Islanders’ net as if his controller went dead. Anyone who listened to Eddie Olczyk call Hawks games over the year could tell you that, as a rushing forward, your job is to shoot, then go to the net and stop. Instead, Reichel just glided past the net.
Later, Reichel had a step on an Islanders defender and once again opted to peel off, spin backward, and give the puck to a teammate.
As I said on last night’s postgame show, I’m so tired of this topic. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. We’ve talked about it ad nauseam, but Reichel’s development is one of the few things on the ice that actually matter to the Blackhawks’ future. If Reichel can’t figure it out, it’s another hole Kyle Davidson will have to fill.
I’m not calling Reichel a bust yet. As frustrating as he’s been, he’s only 79 games into his NHL career, so it’s too early to make a call, but we’ve gotten beyond a bad streak. His play has become a trend, and it’s incongruous with the kind of team Davidson is trying to build.
Don’t forget…Reichel is a Stan Bowman pick. There is no loyalty to Reichel from Davidson.
Greg: Blackhawks Use Simple & Aggressive Approach
We spent many a postgame show this season talking about how passive this Blackhawks team is. With all players out due to injury, the current roster must make up for the lack of talent with a simple approach to the game. Get puck. Shot puck.
That message was received from the drop of the puck tonight. The Blackhawks put up the first seven shots on goal of the game. Even after the Islanders struck first, the Blackhawks went right back to an aggressive approach. The Islanders made it closer in the shot department with a couple of power plays in the second half of the opening frame. The Blackhawks had 12 shots on goal (SOG) on 25 shot attempts in the first period.
The middle frame saw a drop off in shots and shot attempts. This wasn’t because the Blackhawks stopped being aggressive, but rather that they didn’t have the puck for much of the first half of the period. When they did have the puck in the offensive zone, they were quick to get it towards the net, for the most part. They finished the stanza with eight SOG on 17 attempts.
The third period wasn’t kind, as, once again, the Blackhawks spent little time with the puck, especially after the Dickinson goal. In the end, they finished with 24 SOG on 55 attempts, a huge improvement from the 19 SOG and 40 attempts last night in Buffalo.
The Blackhawks need this type of approach from here on out. Even with a completely healthy roster, this team isn’t talented enough to try to make highlight-reel plays. Keep it simple. Get puck. Shoot puck.
Mario: The Streak Ends!
Finally, the Blackhawks have a win this season on night two of a back-to-back set of games. This wasn’t an expected night two of back-to-back games due to weather conditions in Buffalo, but if that game against the Sabres had been played as originally planned, maybe the losing streak on night two of back-to-backs would still be alive.
Heading into tonight’s contest against the Islanders, the Blackhawks were 0-7-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets. In those seven regulation losses, the Blackhawks had been outscored 29-15. But against a team nearly as offensively inept as them, the Blackhawks found a way to spark their efforts late in the second period and build a lead in the third period that they could fully blow and Seth Jones eventually played the hero in overtime.
Chicago has four more back-to-back sets of games, two of them are sets of road games, one is a home game set, and one requires travel in-between. Hopefully getting the weight off their shoulders by getting this win tonight, much like Jones did in scoring his first goal of the season as the overtime winner, the Blackhawks can loosen-up in back-to-back game settings and find more success like they did tonight.
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