Blackhawks hold on for harrowing win after great start

SHARE Blackhawks hold on for harrowing win after great start

Arizona’s Martin Hanzal checks Tanner Kero in the second period during Thursday’s game in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Artem Anisimov corralled the puck in the right circle and slipped a cross-ice pass to Artemi Panarin, who seemed to put three weeks worth of frustration into a one-timer that left him on one knee, and left his nine-game goal drought in the past.

Panarin raised both arms in relief and triumph for a moment until Patrick Kane and Anisimov — his two similarly stymied linemates — came in for the group hug.

But what looked like it would be a cathartic rout against the hapless Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night turned into a messy and harrowing 4-3 victory, thanks to a slew of careless penalties in the second period, including a mind-boggling three delay-of-game calls.

“It’s not probably the way we wanted to play the second half,” goalie Corey Crawford said.

But after losing three straight, with all three coming on late third-period goals, the Hawks weren’t too choosy. No matter the opponent, no matter the manner, a win is a win. And so they chose to focus on the bright spots — a terrific and utterly dominant first period, a pair of desperately needed power-play goals, a resurgent effort from the slumping Anisimov line, and a strong defensive effort in the third period to hang on to a lead.

“Stopped the bleeding,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Knowing three games in a row we didn’t get points in that situation. It’s almost like, ‘OK, let’s see how we handle it.’ There were some good things at the end.

There was nothing but great things in the beginning, as the Hawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead that easily could have been 5-0, 6-0, or even better.

To the delight of an overwhelmingly pro-Hawks crowd that cheered through the national anthem, Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal at 8:44 on a laser from the right dot. Just 72 seconds later, Ryan Hartman’s shot made it through a seven-man screen and past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith for a 2-0 lead. Marian Hossa then scored another power-play goal at 14:15, splitting two Arizona defenders off a feed from Panarin.

The Hawks had been 1-for-20 on the power play since Jan. 13. Quenneville shook up the units for Thursday’s game, splitting Kane apart from Anisimov and Panarin. It worked, as both units scored.

“Sometimes a little shakeup helps,” Hossa said. “It’s nice to have two power-play goals. It gives the team lots of confidence.”

Quenneville said it was one of the best first periods the Hawks have had all season. They followed it up with one of the worst second periods they’ve had all season. The Hawks took five penalties in the second, three times sending the puck over the glass for a delay of game.

“We’ve got to keep it in the building,” Quenneville growled.

“That’s almost like a record,” Hossa added.

The Coyotes got on the board on an Oliver Ekman-Larsson 5-on-3 power-play goal at 1:36 of the second. Panarin’s big one-timer from Anisimov made it 4-1 at 5:24, and it appeared the rout was on again. Hardly.

Palos Township native Christian Dvorak celebrated his 21st birthday with a deflection goal at 14:24 , and Brendan Perlini made it 4-3 with a 4-on-4 goal at 15:51.

Crawford was clearly not thrilled with the undisciplined second-period.

“We just kind of let them back in the game,” he said. “Gave it to them. We just can’t do that against any team. That’s one of the bottom teams in the league and they still come back. It’s a good lesson for us.”

The Hawks held on from there, and while it wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, they were more than happy to take it.

“Big two points for us,” Crawford said. “You want to play solid the whole game, [but] I think that’s just a good one for us to get two points and build off all the positives.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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