In a most unusual home opener, the Blackhawks breakthrough for a win in 2021


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 22: Kevin Lankinen #32 of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts at the end of his team’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on January 22, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – A lot of things are going to feel a lot different over the next few months for the team, whether they are at home or on the road.

That’s part of playing in the pandemic – nothing is quite normal.

The anthem wasn’t live at the United Center before the game with the Red Wings – it was virtual. No fans were cheering, either, since they weren’t allowed in the building. Considering all that the supporters of the team have meant over the past decade, not having them certainly left a void.

“I think you definitely miss the fans, that’s for sure,” said forward Patrick Kane. “We didn’t have the best start tonight. I don’t think we played the greatest tonight. I think we were missing a little bit of energy, especially when you’re used to having that type of energy in the building. It’s different, I mean hopefully we can get some fans back soon.

“Obviously health is most important, but we definitely miss them.”

It was unusual, yet like they have many times in the past, the Blackhawks felt right at home in the unusual environment. They took the lead for the first time to start a game this season, got a goal in each period, and finally got on the board in 2021 with the victory over Detroit.

Kane got a friendly bounce of the puck his way in the first period to knock in his third goal of the year to give the Blackhawks the advantage. Calvin de Haan struck for his first goal of the season in the second period and then Andrew Shaw got one early in the third to make it 3-0.

Though he finally allowed a goal in the third period, Kevin Lankinen delivered the best performance of his very young NHL career. He stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced in his second NHL start, providing the best performance by a goalie so far this season.

All of those things put a positive spin on a most unusual opening night.


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