It was a game that featured all four Blackhawks lines—plus a payback to Raffi Torres for his hit on Marian Hossa last season.
Jamal Mayers threw down the gloves early in the first period against Torres to help pump up the energy on the Blackhawks' bench.
Nobody told Mayers to fight Torres—in fact, the game plan was to just win the game and forget about any retaliation for what happened last season. Though, it was pretty obvious that Mayers had some intention of starting a fight.
"I realize what my job is at this point," Mayers said. "It still doesn't excuse what (Torres did) but give (him) credit that he was willing to go," (via Chicago Tribune).
After the fight, the Blackhawks jumped up and shot back at the Coyotes with an offensive onslaught that started with star forward Patrick Kane.
Kane put home two goals and added one assist, all in the first period. A couple of 5-on-3 power plays helped the 'Hawks to take a dominant 4-0 lead after the first—their biggest lead after the first period this season.
Patrick Sharp—who had three assists Thursday night—credited the 4-0 start to Mayers' fight with Torres (via Chicago Sun-Times):
It takes a lot of guts to do something like that. There was really no discussion of it in our locker room. We wanted to focus on playing hard and not get sidetracked by that stuff. Credit to Jamal for doing it, that’s the toughest job in the game. And I guess you could tip your cap to Raffi as well. He saw it coming. Good fight there, but it definitely fired us up and got us going.
The Blackhawks were able to knock Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith out of the game. Smith was pulled for the second time in as many games against the Blackhawks—he has given up a total of 12 goals against the 'Hawks this season.
This was a statement win, even more so than their win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The Blackhawks started strong and were able to end stronger with two more points to extend their Western Conference lead.
All four lines are rolling, all three defensive pairings are finding ways to block the puck and both goaltenders are seeing the puck.
Coach Joel Quenneville agrees that his team is excelling in all areas of the game (via Chicago Sun-Times):
We feel good right now. We’ve been playing well, been consistent in our games, [and are] getting a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. It seems like the chemistry and the mood of the room is as good as you can get, and it’s reflected in our play.
Let's hope that play keeps up when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
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