Though it was a game that was missing big-name stars like Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist among others, the Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers showed why they’re two of the best teams in the NHL. It’s always fun to see top teams face off, and while the Blackhawks lost, they earned a point and now have an opportunity to take what they learned in this game and apply it in their next matchup against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden next Tuesday, Dec. 13. In that game, they could have both Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook back in the lineup which would provide a huge boost for the Blackhawks.
As he’s done throughout his career with Chicago, Darling was able to keep the Blackhawks in the game the entire time. The team still missed Corey Crawford greatly, but that isn’t a knock on Darling’s ability. Rather, it’s a testament to how good, and valuable Crawford has been in the crease for Chicago for so long now. It’s always tough to lose a starting goalie, especially one that’s so beloved within the locker room like Crawford. The ‘Hawks are fortunate that they have a quality backup like Darling ready to step up at any time.
On the Rangers’ side, Antti Raanta did the same. Quality goaltending was the real story of the game, and while that might be expected from stars like Crawford and Lundqvist, it was the backup goalies that stole the show in Chicago tonight.
After the first period, the score remained tied at zero. The Rangers edged the Blackhawks in shots with 12 to Chicago’s nine, which is nothing new for a Blackhawk’s team that typically gets outshot in the first period.
END OF PERIOD 1: #Blackhawks 0, Rangers 0. NY up 12-9 in shots. 22nd time in 29 games Hawks have been outshot in 1st. Much better, though.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 10, 2016
Still, the effort was there. Scott Darling made some key saves to help keep the Blackhawks morale high despite failing to tally a goal in the first frame. Though the Blackhawks were outshot, it’s still important to note that the Blackhawks shot quality was better than the Rangers. The effort by the Blackhawks was there from the very beginning on both ends of the ice, and the team certainly looked ready to play in their first tilt against the Rangers in four games.
The second period had more of the same from the first. The New York Rangers led the Blackhawks in shots, 23-19, but the real story from the game came from the goaltenders. Both Scott Darling and Antti Raanta put on a show with huge stops on both ends of the ice. The best way to describe the first two periods would be to compare it to the feel of a postseason game – the score may be tied at zero, but the action was consistent.
The entire United Center did collectively hold their breath for a little bit during the period, however, as Patrick Kane left the ice after hitting his head on the glass while taking a hit. Fortunately, Kane did return and played normal shifts as well as time with the man advantage.
Marian Hossa seemingly finally broke the 0-0 tie by scoring his 15th goal of the season. The Rangers did challenge the play for offside, however, and ultimately won, keeping the score 0-0.
The official determine that the play was offsides. No goal. 0-0. #CHIvsNYR
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 10, 2016
At the end of regulation, Darling had recorded 36 saves and Raanta recorded 26. Overtime was needed to solve this one, but both teams deserved the point that they earned heading into the extra frame on the backs of great goaltending.
After a 60-minute game saw zero goals from either side, overtime took just 55 seconds for a game-winner to be scored. Rangers’ defenseman Nick Holden found the back of the net, breaking up Darling’s shutout bid and giving the Rangers the extra point.
Raanta improved to 15-0-3 with a .945 save percentage in the United Center after his impressive showing in Chicago tonight. There was no bad blood between Raanta and Darling following the game either, despite Darling ultimately winning the backup job in Chicago.
“I’m happy for [Raanta], he’s happy for me,” Darling said after the game.
NYR – Nick Holden (4) assisted by D. Stepan
THW Three Stars
First: Antti Raanta (26 saves)
Second: Scott Darling (36 saves)
Third: Nick Holden (1 goal)
Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks
United Center – 7:00 p.m. CST on Sunday, Dec. 11.
Broadcast channels – CSN Chicago
2016-17 Season Series:
November 5 – Blackhawks 3 – Stars 2
November 6 – Blackhawks 4 – Stars 3
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.