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INSTANT ANALYSIS: Transition Game Leads Chicago to Win in Seattle

Three goals going end-to-end prove the difference in win over Kraken

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

The Blackhawks are winners of four straight with a 4-2 victory over the Kraken on Wednesday night in Seattle to kick off a four-game road swing. 

"These guys, they're coming together. They're finding ways to win," interim head coach Derek King said. "The ice was tilted on us a little bit there in the second and [Marc-Andre Fleury] was good. They just seem to be battling and they're still up on the bench having fun."

"It's a lot more fun the way we're playing hockey right now," said Fleury, who was far and away the game's No. 1 star with 31 saves. "We dug ourselves a big hole, still have a long way to go, but one period at a time, chip away at it and try to do the right thing to climb back out of that hole. I think we're playing better as team, all of us, and it's showing too. Got to keep going in the same direction."

Seth Jones, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane all scored as the Blackhawks took a 3-0 lead in the opening 50 minutes of the game. Seattle made it interesting late before Jake McCabe netted his first as a Blackhawk into the empty net to seal the win. 


CONTROLLING THE PUSH

Chicago chipped away against a hard-pressing Kraken team in the opening period and went into the room after 20 with a 1-0 lead. From there, though, Seattle took it to the Blackhawks for most of the rest of the game looking to claw their way back. 

In the second they outshot the Blackhawks 16-6 and led chances 29-10. It was more of the same in the third, with the visitors standing tall until the Kraken got their first goal on the power play with under six minutes to play. At 3-1, the Blackhawks were trying to hold on, allowing another tally with Seattle's extra attacker on before finding the empty netter in the final seconds. 

"I think we were OK until we took a bad penalty. It's a bad penalty to take, but we learn from it," King said. "Once they scored that goal, we kind of got a little reserved, we just kind of sat back. It's almost like maybe those old feelings of earlier when they were losing the games and the 'Oh, here we go.' We've got to get over that hump. We're doing a better job of it, but we've just got to keep working at that."

"I think winning's still a little new to us this year," DeBrincat said. "Maybe we just start throwing pucks away, we're giving it away to them. I thought the first period we were playing well and had it in their zone a lot and then second and third, we were panicking with the puck a little bit. Work in progress, can definitely work on that. Play a full 60 in their end and it'll be way easier to win some games."

In the end, Chicago was able to punch their fourth straight victory though, and it's another positive step in the team's turnaround, now with a 5-9-2 record.

"That should be the fun time to play hockey and the other team's taking chances and you can take advantage," Kane added of playing with the lead. "We've won four in a row, got ourselves back into a good position, Just trying to keep building and play a little bit better next game."

Video: DeBrincat, Kane lead Blackhawks by Kraken in 4-2 win


END TO END 

Even with the struggles in their own end over the last 40 minutes, the Blackhawks showcased their 200-foot offensive game on Wednesday night, scoring a pair of goals on plays that started behind their own net with the puck in the opposing net less than seven seconds later. A third started from the bottom of the circle in the Chicago end and was behind Philipp Gurbauer within six seconds (with a set-up feed from another Philipp, Kurashev). 

"With that mid-lane drive, it opens up so much," DeBrincat said of the transition game. "You see that on Jonesy's goal, he skates all the way from our goal line back down to theirs. With that it opens up a lot and we can make a lot more plays."

"We're a good transition team," Kane said. "You saw that on the first goal. Jonesy did a great job of driving the middle, pushing that guy back and you're able to go cross ice a couple of times and he gets a tap-in. It's not always going to be like that, but it's nice when it works out that way and you can get that D-man in the rush. We have some guys that can get up and join it, too, so could be an effective play for us."

Video: Kane on playing with lead, win over Seattle


CALEB JONES RETURNS

Ahead of Wednesday's game, Caleb Jones was activated off long-term injured reserve and the defenseman made his season debut after suffering a left wrist strain in the final week of training camp during a practice at Fifth Third Arena. 

The Blackhawks rolled 11 forwards and seven defensemen to be able to ease the blueliner back into action in his first game with the team. 

"Caleb was ready to go but we didn't want to just, 'Here you go, your first game in Edmonton,' and just throw him to the wolves or whatever," King said of the plan. "We thought we could just take that route and ease him in, get him used to getting dressed and being around that whole gameday atmosphere. I think it paid off."

For his first shift as a Blackhawk, he shared the ice with just brother Seth on the blue line. 

"It was good," King said. "Crow obviously handles the D, I stay away from that, and he said he was probably going to do that. I thought. 'That's great. Good for him.'"

The timing in particular of the injury was a tough blow after a strong showing in his first preseason with Chicago, one that likely would've see him start the season as a regular on the back end. The timing could work out this time around, though, if he remains in the lineup on Saturday night as the Blackhawks face the Oilers, who selected Jones in the fourth round of the 2015 draft and where he played 93 games over his first three NHL seasons.  

"I thought this would be a big year for me to come in and show that I can be a really good NHL player," he said earlier this week. "I think in Edmonton I had good spurts, but I never consistently could do that. It was a tough blow to hear that (I'd miss the start of the year), especially on a weird play in practice. I kind of kept my head on straight and kept working hard."

Video: King on win over Seattle

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