The Chicago Blackhawks look to regain their footing on Saturday when they complete their eight-game season series against the host Detroit Red Wings.
The Blackhawks began a pivotal five-game road trip with two consecutive wins before stumbling in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings on Thursday.
The loss kept Chicago four points behind fourth-place Nashville in the Central Division. The Blackhawks will visit Music City to conclude their trek on Monday before they open a five-game homestand with two more contests against the Predators.
“There were two huge points up for grabs (Thursday) and we didn’t get it done,” Chicago forward Dylan Strome said after his team slipped to 5-2-0 against the Red Wings this season. “Nashville losing (Thursday) is a good thing, but we have to go out there and find a way to get two points on Saturday.”
Defenseman Duncan Keith opened the scoring by finding the net for the second time in as many games, but that was all the Blackhawks could muster Thursday.
Alex DeBrincat picked up an assist, giving him 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the seven games with the Red Wings this season.
Former Hart Trophy recipient Patrick Kane has boosted his team-leading totals in assists (40) and points (54) with six and eight against Detroit in 2020-21.
Kevin Lankinen made 24 saves en route to falling to the Red Wings for the first time. The rookie has turned aside 152 of 160 shots to post a 4-1-0 record with one shutout against Detroit.
Defenseman Troy Stecher solved Lankinen on two occasions in the second period for the first two-goal performance of his career.
Jakub Vrana scored on a breakaway to highlight his debut with Detroit after being acquired from the Washington Capitals in a deal that centered around Anthony Mantha. Vrana has 12 goals this season after scoring 24 and 25 the past two years.
“I think it helps a lot to be honest,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said of Vrana scoring in his first game with the team. “I would probably lie to you guys and say it’s not a big deal if he hadn’t scored, but I think the reality is when you’re a guy who’s supposed to be counted upon to score and you can get that first one in, it lets you breathe a little bit, and the pressure doesn’t mount.”
Although cellar-dwelling Detroit likely has long since stopped looking at the standings, Blashill said he has liked what he has seen from his team of late. The Red Wings have won three in a row for the first time since Nov. 8-12, 2019.
“We’re a better hockey team than we were at the beginning of the season, and a lot of that is due to our young players,” Blashill said. “We’ve got 11 games left and we can’t waste a second of that opportunity to keep improving.”
Thomas Greiss made 24 saves on Thursday to pick up his first career win in nine appearances against Chicago (1-4-3). Now 5-15-6 on the season, the veteran is 3-0-1 in his last four starts.
–Field Level Media