The Blackhawks captain played a role in all three goals and scored the game-winner in overtime.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in overtime at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday night. Dominik Kubalik scored two goals for the second consecutive game to secure the lead for most goals among NHL rookies with 18. Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goal in overtime to bring the Blackhawks to 21-20-6 through 47 games.
Blackhawks netminder Robin Lehner made 20 saves to earn the win, giving him nine in his last 11 starts. Lehner summed the game up pretty well during his post-game interview.
“It was a pretty bad game out there, to be honest. There was not much that happened. I don’t think we played that great, they didn’t play that great. They got a couple bounces, but you know what, we stuck with it.”
Tuesday marked the third consecutive game in which the Blackhawks have surrendered the lead less than four minutes into the contest. Connor Brown opened the scoring at 3:33 off a Dylan DeMelo rebound to make it 1-0 Senators. Ottawa gained puck possession and scored after Jean-Gabriel Pageau won an offensive zone faceoff against Ryan Carpenter.
Less than three minutes later, the Senators doubled their lead in transition as Chris Tierney tipped a pass from Thomas Chabot past Lehner. Erik Gustafsson appeared to have been the last one to touch the puck before it crossed the line.
The Blackhawks faced a multi-goal deficit after 20 minutes for the third time in the last five games. With their current position in the standings, they can’t afford to have many more of those starts going forward.
“We really can’t afford to lose many games right now,” said Toews. “We weren’t too happy with our start, and I think all the guys came in here — it wasn’t just a few guys, it was everyone — and acknowledged that we’re a lot better than that.”
After creating very little offensively in the first period, the Blackhawks rolled with a top line of Kubalik-Toews-Kane out of the intermission. That trio has produced most of the goal-scoring for the Hawks in recent games.
“They’re going to play together. It’s just finding the right combos, the other combos,” said coach Jeremy Colliton on when to use Kubalik-Toews-Kane. “And do we need them to spread out the depth in the group? At some point, we’ll get some players back. We’ll see how that looks.”
The second period didn’t get off to the start the Blackhawks wanted, as they had just one shot on goal through the first 12 minutes. It took some time for the offense to get going, but the ice began to tilt in the Hawks’ favor when Drake Caggiula nearly cut Ottawa’s lead in half with a shot off the post.
Just moments after Caggiula’s near strike, the Blackhawks finally found the back of the net as Patrick Kane’s shot bounced in off Kubalik’s shinpads. Kubalik’s 17th goal of the season extended his point streak to six games and his goal streak to five. Kane extended his point streak to seven games as well with the assist.
The Blackhawks carried all their momentum from the final 10 minutes of the second period over into the third, as they skated with a purpose right out of the gate.
Kubalik evened the score 2-2 at 3:41 with his second goal of the game on a breakaway. Toews made a beautiful outlet pass to spring Kubalik for the opportunity, and the 24-year-old rookie beat Hogberg five-hole for his 18th goal of the season. Kubalik now has seven goals in the last five games.
Slater Koekkoek also picked up an assist on Kubalik’s second goal of the night, which is his first point since Nov. 9th vs. Pittsburgh.
The Blackhawks remained on the offensive throughout the period, holding the Senators to just five shots on goal. Kubalik was close to scoring his hat-trick goal in the final minutes, but Hogberg came up big with a pad save down low.
Neither team was able to break the tie through 60 minutes, so overtime was deemed necessary.
The Hawks rolled with the usual trio of Toews-Kane-Keith to begin overtime. After losing the opening draw, they were fortunate to get the puck back quickly thanks to a Senators turnover.
Toews decided to take matters into his own hands shortly after. The captain skated through center ice with speed, dangled around Brown, and entered the offensive zone. Toews circled the net, lost possession of the puck momentarily, then skated to the high slot and beat Hogberg with a wrist shot glove-high.
Toews’ 12th goal of the season also proved to be the 12th 3-on-3 overtime goal of his career, which is most in the NHL since being introduced in 2015-16.
Toews has been producing at a point-per-game pace since the beginning of November with 36 points (11G, 25A) in his last 36 games. Toews is on a three-game point streak of his own, with multi-point efforts in four of the last six as well.
Kane recorded his second assist of the game on Toews’ game-winning goal. Kane now has 12 points (4G, 8A) during his seven-game point streak.
The Blackhawks hit the road immediately following Tuesday’s win and head to Montreal to face the 20-20-7 Canadiens at Centre Bell on Wednesday night. Both teams are currently a handful of points back from a playoff spot in their respected conferences. Corey Crawford is expected to get the start for the Blackhawks, and he always performs well when he comes back to his hometown of Montreal.
The contest is slated for 6:30 CT and is scheduled to be on NBCSCH, SN, RDS, and NHL.TV.
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