If the ‘Hawks are going to allow 41 shots on goal in a game, they better hope they have an outstanding goaltender between the pipes. Tonight, they did.
Kevin Lankinen was the absolute story of the game. The Blackhawks goalie stopped all 41 pucks that he saw, picking up his second career NHL shutout and making some remarkable saves along the way. Per Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, that is the highest number of saves made by a goalie during a shutout this season.
The 25-year-old Finn has been the unsung hero of the Blackhawks all season long, so it’s no surprise that he stood on his head tonight. There is a lot of talk of Lankinen being the key to the team’s renaissance, and after the performance he gave in this game, it’s quite easy to see why.
After this victory, Lankinen sits with a .915 save percentage and a respectable 2.83 goals-against-average. For a rookie goaltender who has had less than 2,000 minutes of NHL ice time, there is no reason to think that Lankinen shouldn’t be able to keep this solid play up for the rest of the season, and hopefully longer.
It is clear from the number of games he has played this year that Jeremy Colliton fully intends on molding Lankinen into the team’s starter of the future. In some ways, he already is. If nothing else, the ‘Hawks should be buying Lankinen a steak dinner after this game, because if there is anyone to thank for this victory, it’s definitely him.