The bottom of the Western Conference will clash Monday, with the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks experiencing rare flashes of success.
The Blackhawks arrive in Anaheim, Calif., riding a season-best, five-game winning streak, although the sense around the team is as much about the end of an era as it is about their ability to come out on top in some recent games.
Blackhawks star Patrick Kane went back to Chicago just before the team pulled off a 4-3 shootout victory over the host San Jose Sharks on Saturday as he awaits answers to continued trade rumors. After 16 seasons and three Stanley Cup titles, Kane’s time with the team could be done.
Yet, there seemed to be no sense of melancholy over the news, with the Blackhawks showing Saturday they are more intent on moving forward.
“We got it done somehow,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “Sometimes it’s just not conventional, not necessarily ugly, but it was a little bit sloppy at some times. But it’s a road game. Guys scraped it out. Guys were banged up and we got the win.”
Chicago’s Dave Gust used the opportunity to score a goal in his NHL debut. The tally came in the first minute of his first shift on his first NHL shot, all at the age of 29. Adding to the storybook moment, Gust is a Chicago-area native.
“Can’t write it up any better,” Gust said. “Good first game. It’s good to get that out of the way.”
Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek made 45 saves, plus all three Sharks attempts in the shootout.
Max Domi, who leads Chicago in goals (18) and points (47), scored a goal against the Sharks and is on a six-game point streak with four goals and eight assists over the stretch.
The Ducks enter on a modest two-game winning streak, with both coming on the road. The most recent was a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, who own the second-best record in the NHL.
The Ducks went 2-0-0 against the Hurricanes this season. Against everybody else, it has been a bit of a mess. Before the current two-game run, the Ducks had lost six consecutive games and seven of eight.
They return home after a successful 2-1-1 road trip, but they are just 9-16-1 in their own building and have lost three consecutive games there.
In the victory over the Hurricanes, goalie John Gibson made 51 saves, the third time he has stopped at least 50 shots in his last six games. Jakob Silfverberg and All-Star Troy Terry scored third-period goals for Anaheim.
Budding Ducks star Trevor Zegras had two assists, as did Ryan Strome, with Zegras reaching a team-best 50 points after recording 61 a season ago.
“You know what you’re coming into (against Carolina) as a team,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “We’re at the other end of the spectrum, trying to build something similar years from now. We knew, and John knew himself, that he was going to be tested.”
–Field Level Media