Crawford, Nylander bounce back as Blackhawks pick up first win of the season


The Blackhawks put together their best effort of the season to beat the previously undefeated Edmonton Oilers 3-1.

After an 0-2-1 start to the regular season, things weren’t looking so bright for the Chicago Blackhawks. The re-tooled defense had been lackluster, the penalty kill remained a problem, and Corey Crawford appeared to be a shell of his former self.

With Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the 5-0-0 Edmonton Oilers coming to town on Monday night, there was an eerily-tense feeling surrounding just the fourth game of the season. The Blackhawks couldn’t afford to lose another contest but would have to play a complete game to walk away with their first victory.

The Blackhawks were up to the challenge, as they shut down the potent Oilers offense en route to a 3-1 win. Patrick Kane, Alex Nylander, and Brandon Saad each scored goals, and Corey Crawford made 27 saves to earn the first star of the game.

Crawford was fantastic all night long, as he made a handful of quality stops to keep the Oilers quiet. The only goal Edmonton scored came on a six-on-four advantage with Mike Smith pulled late in the game.

“He looked sharp as ever,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he’s under control. It’s something I’ve said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good.”

Speaking of really good, to much surprise, the Blackhawks played a strong second period on Monday night. The ‘Hawks had 17 shots on goal to the Oilers six and dominated the possession game. Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks the lead off a Dylan Strome faceoff win, and they never looked back.

According to Connor Murphy, the Blackhawks coaching staff addressed the team Monday morning about the second period.

“That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second,” Murphy said. “We showed examples of when we’ve done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice.”

5 Takeaways From Tonight’s Victory

  1. The Blackhawks registered 36 hits for the second time in as many games on Monday night. Brent Seabrook led the team with six, while Calvin de Haan had five, and Olli Maatta and Drake Caggiula each recorded four. It’s clear that Jeremy Colliton wanted to be a more physical team this season.
  2. After playing just 4:54 through two periods, Alex Nylander played 3:26 in the third period (still low, but significant for Nylander) and tallied the game-winning goal. Nylander spent most of the game on the fourth line with Zack Smith and Ryan Carpenter, but he could receive another look in a top-six role after Monday’s performance.
  3. Brandon Saad was arguably the Blackhawks’ best player. Saad registered four shots on goal, one takeaway, and he hit the post twice. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native was rightfully rewarded with the empty-net goal. The Saad-Kampf-Kubalik trio is the only line currently set in stone for the Blackhawks.
  4. Ryan Carpenter picked up a primary assist for the second consecutive game. The former Shark and Golden Knight has never been known for his offense, but he’s been chipping in so far this season. Carpenter has also won 51.7 percent of his faceoffs through four games.
  5. The Blackhawks defense allowed their fewest scoring chances of the season to Edmonton (22). Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy played well together, and Olli Maatta and Brent Seabrook continued their success. Erik Gustafsson appeared more comfortable alongside the defensive-minded Calvin de Haan. These very well could be the defensive pairings heading forward for the Blackhawks.

Up Next

The Blackhawks will once again be at home on Friday night to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coach Jeremy Colliton likely won’t have any lineup changes to make, but he will have a tough time deciding who to start in net. The contest is slated for 7:30 p.m and is scheduled to be on NBCSCH and ESPN+.

For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkinHawkey).