A ‘weird’ day without Patrick Kane but a big debut for a local product. 3 takeaways from the Chicago Blackhawks’ shootout win in San Jose.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-3 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday was a game of firsts.
First NHL goal for Orland Park’s David Gust.
First goal as a Hawk for Brett Seney.
And the Hawks’ first game without Patrick Kane.
Not the kind of “without” in which he has an injury and is expected to return eventually. The might-never-again-take-the-ice-in-a-Hawks-sweater kind of “without.”
Kane flew back to Chicago before the game, a clear signal that a rumored trade to the New York Rangers is in its final stages.
Sam Lafferty, another trade target, also was scratched.
“The possibilities, it’s hard, yeah,” Connor Murphy said before the game. “Even when you kind of know all year that there’s chances for anyone going and you hear rumblings for a long time, it still sucks.
“That initial day when a guy doesn’t come in, it just feels weird. And I think it’ll hit harder when or if things are official, and we’ll go from there.”
The Hawks had extra time to sit with their thoughts — puck drop was delayed while the Sharks retired Patrick Marleau’s No. 12 — but the day’s events didn’t appear to affect their play.
The Hawks jumped on the Sharks from the outset, with Gust scoring 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game.
When Nick Bonino scored the equalizer in the first period, Seney answered 55 seconds later.
Evgeny Svechnikov’s goal midway through the first set up a 2-2 tie heading into intermission.
A scoreless second period might have looked uneventful on paper if not for three Hawks penalties and Max Domi getting a few teeth knocked out by Scott Harrington’s inadvertent high stick that wasn’t called.
Domi got his revenge, scoring 16 seconds into the third and extending his point streak to six games. But Erik Karlsson’s slapper with 2:11 left forced overtime.
Domi couldn’t beat Kaapo Kähkönen on a couple of Grade A looks off a takeaway and a breakaway, but Philipp Kurashev settled the matter with the shootout’s only goal for the Hawks’ season-high fifth straight victory.
“They clawed back three times, and we just had to make sure that we got it done in the end to persevere,” Hawks coach Luke Richardson said. “You know, we’re missing some guys tonight, but it’s an opportunity and those guys made the most of it.”
Here are three takeaways from the win.
1. It was a ‘weird’ day without Patrick Kane.
Richardson said Saturday morning it was a “different feeling” seeing Kane on video and not in person.
Domi, who long has admired Kane and relished the chance to be linemates and build a bond on and off the ice, didn’t sound like he wanted to talk about the subject in great detail.
“Of course, anytime when your guys aren’t playing, whether it’s injury or whatever reason, it’s going to feel different,” he said before turning attention to the game. “Usually when you have an NHL game, you’re focusing on the NHL game, but everything else is just noise as far as I’m concerned.”
For Murphy, it really dawned on him when Kane missed practice Friday for “maintenance” that rumors were becoming reality.
“Yesterday when Kaner didn’t come, it felt a little weird right away,” Murphy said. “And then today, now Laff not coming out on the ice with us, yeah, it feels weird.
“Everyone knew, though, (going) into this road trip that guys are going to be a little bit walking on eggshells off the ice, not knowing what’s going to happen. And sometimes you don’t know whose name is going to be called and when and where. So it’s just a hard thing, but I’d say guys are handling it well.”
Murphy himself has had trade buzz but said it doesn’t bother him.
“You just control how you can play and how you are as a teammate and relationships with the organization and the guys around you and staff,” he said, “and then try to adapt if something like that were to ever happen.”
2. David Gust couldn’t have scripted a better NHL debut.
The 29-year-old Orland Park native was in the right place at the right time. Colin Blackwell went below the goal line and centered a pass to Gust, who flushed his first NHL goal.
“I just had my stick down and Blackie found me,” he said. “Yeah, first shift. Can’t write it up any better.”
Gust said he was thinking: “Holy smokes! That was fast and I can’t believe it happened.”
Gust, who helped the AHL Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup championship last season, said during the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast that he had a pregnant wife and considered giving up his NHL dream to focus on providing for his family.
But then the Hawks called with a one-year contract.
As much as the night meant for him, it was even more emotional for parents Dave and Kelly, who were in attendance.
“At intermission I saw them,” Gust said. “They were both bawling their eyes out, so that was pretty cool and that was special to them.”
It was a special feat in Hawks lore too.
Gust became the second Illinois-born player to score in his NHL debut with the Hawks, joining Chicago native Eddie Olczyk, who did it in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 11, 1984, at Chicago Stadium.
Gust became the fourth Hawk in the last 10 years to score in his NHL debut, joining Dennis Rasmussen (Nov. 8, 2015), Artemi Panarin (Oct. 7, 2015) and Adam Clendening (Nov. 20, 2014).
Gust’s goal was 14 seconds behind the fastest goal by a Hawk in his NHL debut: Ab Demarco Sr scored at the 2-minute mark on March 14, 1939, in Boston.
3. Shootout work gave the Hawks their best shot.
No one had a greater appreciation for Kurashev’s shootout goal against Kähkönen than the goalie on the other end, Petr Mrázek.
“It was a nice shot,” Mrázek said. “Actually, he didn’t have much there. (Kähkönen) didn’t open up much. He just stayed up on the pad and (Kurashev) put a nice five-hole.”
The Hawks lost two shootouts early in the season but have won two in the last three games.
Mrázek said the Hawks have practiced shootouts and play two-puck frequently, so he welcomes shootouts and thinks Kurashev does too.
“He’s trying a lot of shootouts in practice, so I was expecting it to go for him,” Mrázek said.