CHICAGO – The Celebrini Cup. Draft Lottery Series. Celebrini Bowl. Whatever it’s called, the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks played the first of three games that might feature the league’s two teams jockeying for the top spot in the lottery. It was a low key affair, one that saw a 1-1- tie through regulation along with the Hawks being outshot heavily at a 36-22 clip.
Then it went to overtime and of course, a shootout where the Blackhawks took it in the ninth round and won it off of Boris Katchouk, who flew in and beat Mackenzie Blackwood to (mercifully) give Chicago a 2-1 shootout victory.
The Blackhawks pick up the points and the Sharks another step toward securing that 25% crack at winning the draft lottery. But it was a much needed win for Hawks, who snapped a three-game losing streak and managed to get one despite having a fourth straight game end in regulation with just one goal.
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead with a power play goal that ended up being smacked by Cole Guttman, ping ponging off of a Sharks player, through Mackenzie Blackwood, and over the line. The Sharks would finally break through with 14:47 left in the third on for Hawk Ryan Carpenter’s second goal of the season.
Perhaps the more surprising part was that the Blackhawks, who played potential playoff teams tight over the last handful of games didn’t look as sharp against the Sharks. The overtime featured a four-on-three chance but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize. The shootout provided some flair, with Jason Dickinson’s shot banging off the crossbar, bouncing off Blackwood’s back, and then sliding just enough to stop on the line.
Zach Sanford watched his pop off the post and then skid through the crease, parallel with the goal line before exiting. The drama melted into Katchouk’s winner, which gave Chicago the win.
“We had it all,” said a smiling Cole Guttman after the game about the shootout. “A lot of skill, a lot of different ways the guys could put the puck in the net. It was inches away a couple of times. Part of the shootout, part of the game, and makes it exciting for the fans. But it was fun that it happened, and we were still able to get the win.”
Surprise, Surprise–Mrazek to the Blackhawks Rescue
To be fair, there were a couple posts and a crossbar to thank, but Mrazek was once again at his brilliant self, only giving more credence to the idea that he’ll likely get the Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson treatment with a new contract soon.
The Blackhawks record is tough to look at already, but imagine if Mrazek wasn’t between the pipes this season. After the 37-save performance, he notched his 11th win of the year, which evens him up with last season’s total. Mrazek continues to impress, but was coy when it came to admitting if any conversations had occurred about a contract extension.
It might not be the night to talk about that, but it’s enough to admit that Mrazek has been integral to the team’s success and should expect that conversation soon–if indeed it hasn’t happened.