The Chicago Blackhawks and their fans had a very special night on Thursday. The lead-up to it was hyped up by the fact that their top prospect, Lukas Reichel, was making his NHL debut. He has been dominating with the Rockford Ice Hogs and now he is going to get a look in the best league in the world at 19 years old.
He came out for warmups and did a few solo laps as most rookies do when they make their NHL debut. It was really cool to see as the organization really hopes that he is going to become someone that they can build around. So far so good.
Following warmups, the team honored Andrew Shaw. Shaw was a very good player for the Blackhawks throughout his career and was a big part in them winning two Stanley Cups while he was there. He also had a stint with the Montreal Canadiens who were the opponent on the other side for this game.
In his career, Shaw played in 544 games (all with Chicago or Montreal) where he scored 116 goals and had 131 assists for 247 points. That is not bad production at all for a kid who had to work his way up from being a 5th round draft pick. He was well deserving of this very nice ceremony where we reflected on his career and he gave a speech. It was great to watch.
The Chicago Blackhawks played a magnificent game on Thursday night.
Once that concluded, the United Center started to get amped up for the hockey game that was about to take place. Reichel made his way onto the ice for his first shift rather early in the game and he skated with Patrick Kane as the top-line center. Brandon Hagel was on the other side of Kane as the right-wing.
Playing as the top-line center with a legend like Patrick Kane on your wing in your NHL debut is a very nice gig. That was the reality for young Reichel. He didn’t score a goal or have an assist but he very much looked like he belonged out there with the top line. The future could be very bright for him.
The Blackhawks dominated the shots on goal category in the first period by having 13 to Montreal’s 3. They only came out of it with a 1-0 lead though. The goal was scored by Dominik Kubalik on a breakaway.
Of course, the Canadiens tied it up and took the lead in the second with goals from Jeff Petry and Mike Hoffman. They really tilted the ice back in their favor during that frame by having 17 shots to Chicago’s six.
The third period was much more even in terms of shots (11-8 Chicago). With that, the Blackhawks managed to tie it up thanks to a goal by Patrick Kane. That ended a goal-scoring drought for Kane so you can expect them to come in bunches now.
Once they got to overtime tied at two, they needed a hero. Philipp Kurashev was that hero as he scored a very unique overtime game-winning goal. He lost control and the Montreal defender pushed the puck past the goal line. It was reviewed for that and then for offsides before finally being declared as the OTGWG.
With the way that the night ended, you could say it was a perfect evening. The Blackhawks honored a very important player to their team’s history, Lukas Reichel made his NHL debut, and the Hawks won the game against a very desperate team. Hopefully, more nights like this one are on the horizon.