Blackhawks try to halt slide at Vegas
The Vegas Golden Knights had a day in between experiencing the high of stopping a five-game losing streak against the Washington Capitals to returning to the ice Thursday night against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago (9-15-5) has less than 24 hours from its turnaround from a 4-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks are on a five-game losing streak while Vegas has won six of its last seven games.
The Golden Knights (15-13-1) put an end to Washington’s dominance over them dating to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 5-3 win Tuesday behind two goals by defenseman Nate Schmidt in the final 1:24 at the game at T-Mobile Arena.
“That was an intense game, a lot of emotion, a lot of things blowing over from the (Stanley Cup Final). Our penalty-kill guys did a great job,” Schmidt said. “(Coach Gerard Gallant) came in here after the second period, and hasn’t done this much, but really challenged our guys to go have a better third period, and up and down our lineup, guys responded, and that’s the most important part about this game.
“It was a big win, an emotional win, and I like the way our team responded to that challenge.”
Cody Eakin and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had goals 16 seconds apart in the third period for the Knights, who played without left wing Max Pacioretty. He was out with an illness but is expected back against Chicago.
Schmidt scored the go-ahead goal on the power play against his former team with 1:24 remaining. He crossed the blue line and made a quick move to his forehand before he buried a shot past Braden Holtby’s glove.
Schmidt added an empty-net goal with 6.9 seconds left and the T-Mobile Arena crowd went crazy, especially after the Capitals celebrated their Stanley Cup championship at that venue after winning Game 5.
Vegas won at Chicago 8-3 in the first meeting last Tuesday. The eight goals (including two goals each for Eakin and Shea Theodore) are a franchise record and the victory extended the Golden Knights’ winning streak to four games at the time.
In that game, Chicago forward Dylan Strome scored in his debut with the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford made 24 saves on 30 shots before being relieved at the start of the third period by Cam Ward, who made 11 saves.
“I think you put yourselves in a hole and it’s hard to score in this league,” said Strome, who was acquired along with Brendan Perlini from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Nick Schmaltz. “Sometimes if you’re opening up chances because you got down 3-0, it ends up in the back of your net.”
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook added, “We’ve got to be better from the puck drop. We’ve just got to be better. It’s just not acceptable to be playing the way we’re playing. Starting off games (like the loss against the Golden Knights last week), obviously that puts us behind and we’re fighting back the rest of the game.”