Go figure. The old and new Blackhawks on the roster pulled together and rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Tuesday night. They continued what they started back in April–shocking the Penguins who came in favorites.
But for som eof the players who were on that roster last season to pull off that upset, it was some of the new faces that helped seal the deal. Ryan Donato starts the scoring off a rebound shot by Alex Vlasic, who is one of many youngsters on the roster getting more full time status.
Then there’s Cole Guttman, who tied the game at two and continued the positive trend he started last season with six points in 14 games. Now he’s got one very big goal already in a single game.
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Jason Dickinson, who had a career year last season, scores the go-ahead goal to seal the comeback and then its newcomer veterans Corey Perry and Nick Foligno who make sure any comeback bid is snuffed out.
Backstopping the Blackhawks the entire night was veteran Petr Mrazek, who stifled one Penguins chance after another.
For sure it was Connor Bedard’s debut, and he had an assist in his first game. But as it will need to be, a total team effort produced a victory in as many games for the Blackhawks.
Blackhawks Show That the Team Ultimately Wins
It looked dire at 2-0, with the Blackhawks grip slipping from the game. Donato scores quickly and then Mrazek bailed the team out with one save after another. Guttman’s goal came after a pretty feed and then Dickinson takes advantage of good fortune to put the Blackhawks ahead for good.
There was much hand wringing when general manager Kyle Davidson brought in the likes of Perry and Foligno and paid them what he did. But that type of leadership on the ice is what is needed, an understanding of what it takes to pull off a rally as they did. It won’t happen every night, and it certainly won’t be a playoff season.
Even when Connor Bedard was the focus for the entire night, it was the team that won the game. Bedard his moments, too, but the beauty of hockey is that it takes a full roster to win the game.
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Wyatt Kaiser started shaky but settled down. Kevin Korchinski was up and down the ice all night, making little plays here and there to help in the effort. Vlasic, who watched Sidney Crosby use him as a screen and watch the puck go through the wickets on the Penguins second goal, leads the rush minute later and generates the rebound that becomes a goal off of Donato’s stick.
And jump charges the rally.
Hawks fans have every right to enjoy this win, to lap it up like a thirsty dog because last season had some tough moments and long stretches of losing. The fun part is that the end goal–building a team around Bedard, was on display tonight.
They’re unlikely to make the playoffs. It will be tough to watch at times. But the path is being paved for a strong future.