CHICAGO – A statement win might be too strong, considering they’ve still got quite a bit of work to do just to make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But if the Blackhawks, still filled with a lot of proud veterans on the roster, were looking to show an improved Coyotes team that they were still in the fight for the postseason, they did so in convincing fashion.
Shaking off an early goal by former teammate Richard Panik, the Blackhawks’ offense erupted for seven unanswered goals in a 7-1 victory over Arizona that extends their winning streak to three. This victory at the United Center, coupled with a loss by the Wild to San Jose, gets the Blackhawks within five points of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
At the same time, it prevented the Coyotes from taking that spot, which they would have done had they beaten the Blackhawks on Monday night. But Jeremy Colliton’s team made sure that wouldn’t happen on a memorable offensive night at home.
It was fitting that this scoring barrage would be started and finished by a player traded away from the Coyotes earlier in the season. In easily his best game with team to date, Brendan Perlini registered a hat trick, scoring the Blackhawks’ first goal of the game, then finishing it off with a score with just three seconds left in the game. In between, there were goals by Brandon Saad, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews, all which helped the Blackhawks even their overall record of 30-30-9.
Not to be forgotten on this offensive evening was Corey Crawford, who delivered his second-straight solid game against Arizona. He stopped 24 shots on the night and allowed just a single goal for the second consecutive game.
All of these added up to a win which may not be labeled as a statement game, but certainly sends the message that the Blackhawks aren’t done with their pursuit of the playoffs.