As good as the Chicago Blackhawks made us feel with their comeback win on Saturday night, they made us feel a hundred times worse by watching them wet themselves versus the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks have been plagued by slow starts over the past few games, but that was not the case tonight. Maybe it was the momentum of last night’s win or the fear of getting pummeled by Al Secord. Whatever the reason, the Hawks scored early and often versus the Devils.
It took all of 41 seconds for the Blackhawks to open the scoring as Artem Anisimov got to the front of the net and redirected Jan Rutta’s wrist shot from the point past Keith Kinkaid. Patrick Kane was credited with his team-high 11th assist, as well, on Anisimov’s sixth goal of the season.
The lead only lasted three minutes as the Devils had a fast response while Brent Seabrook was in the penalty box for tripping. Miles Woods, who drew the penalty on Seabrook, muscled his way in between Gustav Forsling and Nick Schmaltz at the front of the net to bury a feed from Drew Stafford.
Alex DeBrincat continued his hot weekend by giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later. DeBrincat does what he does best and found the soft spot on the ice in the slot to fire home a one-timer past Kinkaid for his sixth goal of the year and third in the last 24 hours.
Jan Rutta extended the lead to 3-1 with a power play goal at 16:39 as he stopped a clearing attempt at the point and quickly fired at the goal where the puck deflected off of New Jersey defender John Moore before finding the back of the net.
22 seconds later Tanner Kero scored his first goal of the season as Lance Bouma settled down a bouncing puck in the slot and got it to Kero for a quick backhand shot that beat Kinkaid.
The Devils got some momentum back just 26 seconds later as Woods struck again be getting wide open at the top of the left circle and buring a one-timer past Corey Crawford.
There was something about shooting at the west goal tonight as after the Blackhawks scored four goals in it in the first period the Devils scored four of their own during the middle frame. The first goal came at 3:07 when Andy Greene took a feed from Stefan Noesen at the bottom of the right circle where he had the time and space to lift the puck over a sprawled out Crawford.
The last time we saw Nico Hischier at the United Center he was drafted first overall at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He returned to tie the game at 6:52 by being the first to a loose puck in the slot and firing a shot through a Kyle Palmieri for his third goal of the year.
Another first overall pick, Taylor Hall, gave the Devils a 5-4 lead about six minutes later as he outmuscled Rutta to a loose puck off the boards, below the right circle, and then stuffed the puck past Crawford for his sixth goal of the year.
Brian Gibbons doubled the New Jersey lead at 17:05 by taking a feed from Wood in the slot, in between both Jordan Oesterle and Michal Kempny, and firing a wrister past Crawford.
The Blackhawks got some momentum in the closing seconds of the middle from as Brian Boyle was sent off for cross-checking Nick Schmaltz with just 8.5 seconds remaining. Jonathan Toews won the faceoff back to Rutta, whose shot from the point went wide, but Patrick Kane was able to backhand the bounce off the boards into the Devils net with a defender draped all over him.
Joel Quenneville decided to start the third period with Anton Forsberg in goal and it did not provide the spark he had hoped for. The Blackhawks got pinned in their own end right off the opening draw and it led to Richard Panik taking a slashing penalty. Wood completed his hat trick and the scoring on the night by getting a pass in front of the net then going backhand/forehand to beat Forsberg while Rutta stood and watched.
Right now this Blackhawks team cannot beat fast teams, which is a serious problem in today’s NHL. There is no excuse to blow a 4-1 lead on your home ice. Now the Blackhawks have to prepare to take on the red hot New York Rangers on Wednesday night.