Chicago Blackhawks slip past Ottawa 2-1 for third straight win and extend their Central Division lead to three points over Minnesota
The Chicago Blackhawks notched their third straight win Thursday night in a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Richard Panik’s power play goal late in the third-period broke a tense 1-1 tie, and the ‘Hawks hung on to split the season series with Ottawa and push their season record to 45-20-5. The victory gives Chicago 95 points a three point lead atop the Central Division over the Minnesota Wild, who fell 3-1 to Carolina for their third straight loss.
With just 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Blackhawks are playing their best hockey of the year and have now won eight of the last ten games against teams currently in playoff position. Against Ottawa, the ‘Hawks beat a powerful Sens team that has owned second-place in the Atlantic Division since November and had gone 6-0-1 in their seven previous games. The win in Ottawa also continued their remarkable run on the road where they’ve now won 10 of their last 11 games, including the first two of this current three-game trip through Canada.
So what can we glean from this latest triumph? Here are five thoughts as the ‘Hawks head into the final three weeks of the regular season.
Signed just five days ago to a two-year entry-level deal, Blackhawks forward John Hayden made his NHL debut against Ottawa and did…OK. He didn’t score on his first shot or blast anybody into the third row, but the big, former 2013 third-round draft pick out of Yale played a smart, physical game that likely met most of coach Joel Quenneville’s modest expectations.
Skating short shifts on the top line with Panik and Jonathan Toews, Hayden posted one shot and three hits in 8:44 of ice time, and drew a penalty mid-way through the third-period to spark a chain of events that ended with Panik’s game-winning goal. And in a notable show of confidence, coach Q put the youngster on the ice with less than two minutes remaining to help Chicago seal the victory. It’s way too soon to make any predictions, but a good start nonetheless.