After a disappointing opening week resulted in just one point after three games, the Chicago Blackhawks will be looking to bounce back and get into the win column this week.
The week of frustration began as the Blackhawks dropped their opener in Prague, Czech Republic to the Philadelphia Flyers, only to return home and come up short in contests with the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets – managing to force the Jets to overtime to tally their first point of the season.
The new week opened with action Monday night as the Edmonton Oilers took to the United Center ice, with games set over the weekend at the UC against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Monday night’s game featured a pair of season firsts.
The Oilers stepped on the the United Center ice riding a five-game win streak to open their season and their 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon set an NHL record with their fifth consecutive come-from-behind win to start the season. Behind a solid showing in net from Corey Crawford the Blackhawks captured their first victory of the season with a 3-1 win over the Oilers.
Patrick Kane opened the scoring for the Blackhawks with a first period tally, and Alexander Nylander gave the hosts a two-goal lead just before the midway point in the third.
The lone Oilers tally came during an empty net, 6-on-4 goal off the stick of James Neal in the final stages of the third period to close the gap to one goal. But Brandon Saad added the final Hawks score with an empty-netter in the closing minute to seal the win.
What Lies Ahead
Friday, Oct. 18 vs. Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets fell to 1-3-0 with a home loss to the Anaheim Ducks last Friday night, but handed the Carolina Hurricanes their first loss of the season with a 3-2 loss on the Hurricanes’ home ice the next night.
After scoring just two goals in his first 24 games last season, Oliver Bjorkstrand already has two goals through the Blue Jackets first five games this season, including an unassisted goal in the second period against the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes entered their sixth game of the season with the Blue Jackets undefeated, while Columbus had lost their only other game away from Nationwide Area in a 7-2 debacle against the Pittsburgh Penguins a week earlier.
The Jackets struck first against the Hurricanes and only trailed for 17 seconds en route to their first road victory of the early campaign. Head coach John Tortorella managed his lineup perfectly, with no lineup changes while having goalkeeper Joonas Korpisalo in net for his second of two straight nights.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 2, Blue Jackets 1
Sunday, Oct. 20 vs. Capitals
While the Capitals have controlled 57 percent of shot attempts through six games, according to Natural Stat Trick, that domination has not been evident on the scoreboard. The Caps have been outscored 12 to 11 during five-on-five play, which is in contrast to last season.
Rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov has been nearly perfect in his two appearances, allowing two goals in 119 minutes while Braden Holtby has allowed 15 goals.
Washington is entering this week of play on the heels of a 4-1 victory over the Stars in Dallas over the weekend, earning their third win in four road games so far this season. The win came as a result of a pair of power play goals and a 6-for-6 showing on the penalty kill on the night. This was the first of the Capitals, six games this season that was not decided by a single goal.
Prior to the win over the Stars, the last time the Caps were perfect on the penalty kill and scored multiple power-play goals was a 7-2 win over the Calgary Flames back in 2010. Adding to the story, it was the first regulation win for Washington in Dallas since Oct. 1995, snapping a 24-year losing streak. The Stars posted a 13-0-4 home record during the Capitals’ previous 17 visits to Texas.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Capitals 1
Scott brings several years of local hockey coverage with the Kankakee Daily Journal to the Hockey Writers, along with coverage of NCAA Hockey, Softball, Basketball, and Soccer with HEROSports. He is also a regular contributor to FloSoftball and Coach & Athletic Director Magazine.