Photo: Chicago Blackhawks Facebook
In consecutive games this week, the two players credited with the Blackhawks’ resurgence each netted hat tricks, helping launch the team back toward first place in West.
Captain Jonathan Toews tallied three against the first-place Minnesota Wild while Patrick Kane scored his third-career hat trick in a decisive victory against the Arizona Coyotes Thursday. The stars duo’s high-scoring games are a small representation of the team’s depth that we’ve seen since their definitive victory Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres.
At 38-18-5, the Hawks are closing the gap on the 39-14-6 Wild.
Chicago beat the Coyotes 5-3 Thursday with a strong start and a powerful finish that made up for some weak points along the way. The first period ended with a 3-3 tie.
- Young gun Nick Schmaltz fired top-shelf (his sixth goal this season) after a dish delivered by Toews and Richard Panik just 37 seconds after puck drop.
- Just seven minutes later, Jakob Chychrun evened the score with a wrister from the top of the circle set up by Alexander Burmistrov and Max Domi.
- A takeaway by Marian Hossa fed a close-up snap shot goal for Ryan Hartman to regain a 2-1 lead about halfway through the first.
- Hartman passed to Tanner Kero, who set up Kane’s first goal of the game, a snap from the close edge of the left circle, making it 3-1 with just over three minutes left in the first.
- The Coyotoes’ Ryan White closed the gap when Alex Goligoski recovered White’s initial shot blocked by Michal Rozsival and fed Burmistrov who set Ryan up for a backhander at the net with 2:18 left in the first.
- Radim Vrbata wristed the puck past Corey Crawford, tying the game 3-3, thanks to a set up by Tobias Rieder and Martin Hanzal as the period came to an end.
- Just under three minutes into the second, Roszival’s wrister from the slot on a pass-back from Schmaltz, fed by Toews, shelfed Mike Smith, making it 4-3 Chicago.
- Brent Seabroook fed the puck down ice to Kane, who hustle-and-faked Goligoski and wristed the puck five-hole with almost seven minutes remaining in the period.
- And, about half-way through the third, it was hats off for Kane’s with a snap shot fed by his usual partners, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.
Just two days earlier, Toews had a five-point game, including a hat trick, pushing Chicago closer to leading rival Minnesota with a 5-3 win.
- After a scoreless first period, Toews gave Chicago a 1-0 lead less than a minute into the second with a net-side wrister delivered from Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brian Campbell at the blue line.
- Mikael Granlund answered with a power play goal a few minutes later in front of the net rebounding Nino Niederreiter‘s shot from Mikko Koivu.
- In under a minute, Toews was back in the play with a steal and a pass to Richard Panik who’d knock it past Devan Dubnyk with ease.
- Opening the third period, Schmaltz fired a wrister from Toews’ faceoff win for a 3-1 lead.
- Zach Parise made it 3-2 tipping in a shot from Marco Scandella delivered from the blue line off a Jason Pominville pass-back.
- Less than two minutes later, Toews tallied his second goal with chipping a backhander dished from Schmaltz behind the net.
- He then solidified the game with an unanswered empty-net goal sent from Schmaltz with just over a minute left in play.
This was Toews’ fourth career hat trick.
The Hawks are 7-1 in their last eight games. The captain has awoken the squad with 20 points in his last 12 games.
The Blackhawks wrapped up their bye week return last weekend 1-1, with Saturday’s loss to Edmonton (3-1) halting a win streak at six games and a definitive 5-1 victory in Buffalo flashing signs of the team’s depth.
Against the Sabres, Hartman, Marian Hossa (at 21 goals this season), Toews, Anisimov, and Kane all scored with Tanner Kero, Duncan Keith, Marcus Kruger, Michal Kempny, Panik, Schmaltz, Kane, and Panarin assisting.
Sunday, the Blackhawks take on the third-place St. Louis Blues (31-24-5), who sit 15 points behind them in standings, but are 2-2 against each other this season. St. Louis won 5-2 Oct. 12, with the Blackhawks taking wins 2-1 Nov. 9 and 6-4 Dec. 17 before the Blues’ strong 4-1 Winter Classic victory.
Chicago is expected to play their new trade pickup Tomas Jurco, who they received in exchange for a third-round draft pick. Jurco, from Detroit, didn’t see much playing time. In four seasons, he tallied 15 goals and 24 assists, playing 159 games. He comes with a $900,000 cap hit, according to CapFriendly.com, leaving the Hawks with $2,876,672 in space.
The Hawks and Blues will face off at 6:30 p.m. C.T. at the United Center and will be shown on NBCSN.