WINNIPEG – Winning in regulation has been a bit of a challenge as of late for the Blackhawks, and that’s even more so when the team is away from the United Center.
To find the last time the team didn’t have to play overtime to get a win on the road, you have to go back to November 16th. That’s when they beat the Predators in Nashville, and their luck ran out after that. They’ve lost five of their seven road games since, with one victory coming in overtime on December 5th in Boston and in a shootout the next night in New Jersey.
Other than that, it’s been tough for the Blackhawks to get the job done in 60 minutes, but on Thursday night in Winnipeg, they managed to do just that.
Strong goaltending by Robin Lehner set the tone for the effort against the Jets as the Blackhawks got a complete night from Patrick Kane, who assisted on three goals and scored the final one in a 4-1 triumph on the road. It’s just their third win in regulation on the road all season long, going with that win over the Predators and the victory in Vegas on November 13th.
The only negative on the night concerned forward Brandon Saad, who had to be helped off the ice after injuring his right ankle in a second period collision. He wouldn’t return to the game and his status for future games is unknown.
The effort was easily Lehner’s best in the month of December as he stopped 36 of 37 shots on the evening, and he didn’t allow a goal until the third period. It’s the second-straight victory in net for the goaltender as he also was in net for the team’s 5-3 win Sunday against the Wild.
Kane took care of the offense as he had the primary assist on a first period goal by Alex Nylander along with third period scores by Dominik Kubalik and Eric Gustafsson. After the Jets got on the board, Kane got his 19th goal of the season later in third period to seal up the Blackhawks’ 14th win of the year.
Thankfully, they didn’t have to work any overtime to do that on the road, which has been a rarity this season.