Seth Jones took the shot and briefly hanged his head, his shoulders slightly slumped.
You’d think the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman had just missed a wide-open net and let his team down instead of scoring the game-winning goal in a 4-3 overtime victory against the New York Islanders on Friday at the United Center.
It wasn’t grief, just relief.
After 30 games, he finally secured his first goal of the season.
“I was in shock,” said Jones, who was mobbed by teammates after the goal. “I was like, ‘Wow, one actually went in.’
“It’s a great feeling, the team played unbelievable tonight. We gave up the two-goal lead in the third, but the way we stuck in there, and Petr Mrázek made big saves down the stretch, it’s just a good team win before we go on this road trip.”
The Hawks had a few other firsts that had been hang-ups.
They won the second game of a back-to-back for the first time in eight tries. And forward Joey Anderson recorded his first goal of the season.
“A couple chances a couple games go out, I would’ve liked to maybe drop, so it gets a little frustrating,” Anderson said. “But Blackie (Colin Blackwell) and Dickie (Jason Dickinson) were both in a great place to set that one up, and I made sure to put it in the net.”
It’s symbolic Dickinson tied Connor Bedard for the team lead with his 15th goal — the Hawks had been struggling offensively without the rookie.
Asked about winning their first back half of games on consecutive days, coach Luke Richardson said with a laugh: “We haven’t won much lately, so I’m not surprised it’s the first time.
“But I think there’s desperation. There were a few games there we were in and we played really hard and maybe the other teams were just a little stronger than us in the end and got the win. And that gets frustrating and old after a while.”
Richardson remarked how the Hawks beat the San Jose Sharks despite not playing their best but then couldn’t follow it up against the Buffalo Sabres — a game that was supposed to be a back-to-back but got pushed a day because of snowstorms.
The Hawks next jet off to Vancouver to start a four-game trip hoping to build momentum before the NHL All-Star break.
Here are eight takeaways from the win.
1. He was really Jones-ing for a goal.
“That’s probably the biggest drought I’ve been in, I think,” Jones said. “Nothing was going in, but it’s nice that I remember how to score and put the puck to the net and good things happen.”
To Jones, It might’ve felt like the longest drought of his career, but it was only the fourth longest.
Here’s how it breaks down.:
2021-22: Blackhawks, 35 games
2014-15: Nashville Predators, 31 games
2023-24: Blackhawks, 30 games
Richardson noted Jones had some shots that were tipped, so the defenseman earned the assist while a teammate was credited with a goal.
“It’s really nice to get rid of that zero in the column, especially since he’s used to producing more,” Richardson said of Jones. “But more importantly, it was suiting for him to get that goal at the end because of the way he played defensively and up and down the ice.
“He was excellent on making the choices when to go and join the rush and help out offensively, but also his one-on-ones were excellent tonight.”
Leading up to Dickinson’s goal, “I believe he stripped a guy from behind our net, and it led to a line rush,” Richardson said. “That’s a complete game.”
2. Break up Boris Katchouk.
He’s generally not regarded as an offensive threat but has had a few big moments this month.
During the second period Friday, he danced his way on a breakaway and tried a net-front backhander on Ilya Sorokin that the Islanders goalie turned away.
But Katchouk wheeled around to the high slot and ripped a Sorokin shot to put the Hawks on the board.
3. The 2-minute bugaboo reared its head again.
Could it be the Hawks tend to relax after taking a lead — like that’s a thing second-to-last-place teams do?
On Friday, Dickinson scored an early third-period goal to make it 3-1. But 1 minute, 27 seconds later, Bo Horvat’s wrister pulled the Islanders within a goal.
Dickinson said it’s an area the Hawks need to address.
“Momentum swings, we’ve got to take advantage of the ones that we create and minimize the ones that they’re trying to create,” he said. “The stronger we can come out after a goal for a couple minutes, the more it’s going to beat the other team down.
“We definitely just got to hammer that home into our heads. We can’t be loose after we score a goal because they’re desperate. They want to score too.”
4. Questionable calls get Luke Richardson riled up.
It’s something you don’t see too often with the low-key coach.
A roughing double-minor penalty against Blackwell also seemed excessive. Richardson took some issues directly with the refs.
“I just didn’t agree with them,” he said. “But that’s every game and every coach. Our team needed to know that our coaches are battling for them when we think that there’s some calls that don’t go our way.”
But it’s not personal.
“Kelly Sutherland is one of my favorite referees,” Richardson said. “He comes over and he talks and explains and is honest, and you can’t complain about that. So I get a little bit of hot air off my chest and then you just move on.
“And (the refs) settled in and let the two teams play the rest of the way.”
5. Fire ’em up … or just fire ’em?
Alex Vlasic felt as if the Hawks were “sluggish” against the Sabres. Other Hawks have made similar comments previously, so you would think maybe the players need an occasional chewing out.
But but that’s not Richardson’s style.
“Professional hockey, if you can’t get up for yourself for a game and for your teammates, then you’re probably not going to be here long,” Vlasic said before Friday’s game.
“If Coach goes in ranting and raving one game to try and create the atmosphere for the team, how long is that going to last in 82 games? It’s probably not going to last very long and the players will be gone and so will the coach.”
6. They’re still coming and going through the injury turnstile.
“He’s going to be day to day,” Richardson said of Murphy. “But unfortunately (Nikita) Zaitsev ... is going to be out for a bit.”
The team placed the defenseman on injured reserve Thursday with a right knee injury and called up Louis Crevier.
Zaitsev, Murphy and Donato are just some of the latest Hawks to miss at least one game since December.
Connor Bedard looked like his normal self during a recent practice skate, wearing a full face shield and cage over his surgically repaired broken jaw.
“Connor, we’re just not sure,” Richardson said of his timeline. “We’re just waiting ... to see how everything settles in.”
Nick Foligno (broken left ring finger) has been skating recently but needs to build back his strength and speed.
“It might be a couple days of practice, but he’ll come on the trip with us,” Richardson said.
As for Andreas Athanasiou, there’s still no indication how close he might be — and he has been gone since November (cue Wyclef Jean’s song). His treatment wasn’t working so needed to be reevaluated.
“Unfortunately it took so long to really pinpoint what it is … It was just trial and error,” Richardson said. “And it was an area that he had a similar injury before and was very concerned about, so (he) got some extra opinions on it.
“But he seems to be on a track, it’s just unfortunate we’re way behind the pace. We’d love to have him back as quickly as possible because that speed would surely help.”
7. Escape from Buffalo.
Some areas saw more than three feet of snow in the second of back-to-back lake-effect storms between Jan. 13 and Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, N.Y.
According to one source, the impact near the Hawks’ hotel and KeyBank Center — at which attendance was listed at 15,465 — wasn’t as heavy as other parts of the city.
“It was a little bit rocky getting out there last night but it wasn’t too bad,” Richardson said. “I think they’re used to handling that much snow. Yesterday got a little bit warmer. It really wasn’t icy. We got out of there.”
8. ‘You only get one shot …'
The Hawks jumped to a 7-0 lead in shots on goal, so it had to be really grating when Brock Nelson scored on the Islanders’ first attempt.
It’s the first one-and-done the Hawks have given up this season.
Including Nelson’s goal, there are four times the Hawks have allowed an opponent’s goal on their first shot (all losses):