The Blackhawks had been missing a few ingredients -- especially some offense and hustle -- as of late. Hossa returned to the ice Sunday after sitting out the previous five games with an upper-body injury and brought back to the team exactly what it had been lacking.
Hossa stepped again into his universal role and keyed the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings while scoring once, making two assists, recording two takeaways and playing significant minutes on the power play and penalty kill.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had described Hossa as one of the league’s top players Saturday and anticipated he would have a major impact when he returned. Quenneville was happy he was right on.
“He changes the look, the complexion of our line or our team game,” Quenneville said. “We seem to have the puck a lot more when he’s out there, and he made some finish plays. He definitely had some nice jump to his game as well. It made a big difference tonight having him back.”
Hossa felt some rust early on, but he worked it off as the game progressed. His points didn’t come until later in the evening, but he was noticeably active in the later stages of the first period, moving with the puck and making defenders miss.
“It took me a little to get into it,” said Hossa, who said he felt no signs of the injury. “Obviously missing five games, you feel that. You try to get in on a short shift in the beginning and try to get yourself in the game. Into the game, I felt more comfortable.”
Hossa notched his first point when he won a loose puck on the end boards and delivered it to Nick Leddy near the blue line. Leddy fired in a slap shot to put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0.
Hossa later put the game out of reach in the third period. He first skated up the right side of the rink with speed, was passed the puck by Patrick Sharp, gathered more speed, skated past the Red Wings’ defense and finally beat goaltender Jimmy Howard for a goal. It was his 25th of the season.
Hossa ended his night by taking the puck off Johan Franzen’s stick at Chicago's blue line and creating a rush the other way. He stopped hard at the top of the right circle, allowing Jonathan Toews to get up in the play. He fed Toews the puck between two defenders, and Toews finished the play with a goal.
Blackhawks forward Ben Smith, who had his own positive night with a goal and an assist, was asked afterward what made Hossa a special player.
“I think it’s the way he uses his body, the way he protects the puck,” Smith said. “It’s hard to get him off the puck because he’s so strong. He works so hard along the walls. That’s what separates him, along with the scoring touch and the playmaking ability he has.”
Hossa was modest about his contributions.
“I’m glad I can help a little bit,” Hossa said. “I thought tonight everybody played pretty well. I thought it was a shaky beginning, but we stuck with the system and found a way to win.”
Having Hossa back helped the Blackhawks in that.