photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
By Jon Fromi
Two guys having a pretty decent training camp for the Chicago Blackhawks were knocked out of the team’s return engagement with Detroit Wednesday night. The Hawks prevailed at the United Center, parlaying a host of power play chances into a 4-3 comeback win. However, the availability of Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith for the start of the regular season is now up in the air.
Smith, who tied the score in the third period with an opportunistic goal, was knocked senseless by a shoulder to head hit by Detroit’s Brendan Smith. The check left Smith face down on the ice for several minutes before he was helped to the dressing room. [Video and more here]
The Blackhawks opened the scoring when Cory Emmerton was called for hooking midway through the first period. Less than a minute into the man advantage, Jonathan Toews dug the puck out of the corner, skated to the right side of the net and flipped the puck back to a streaking Patrick Kane. Kaner’s aim was true, and Chicago led 1-0.
The Red Wings struck twice in the last five minutes of the period. Fabian Brunnstrom got credit for Detroit’s first goal after a shot deflected off of his skate. Drew Miller took advantage of the space left in front of the net by Toews and Brent Seabrook. Taking the centering pass from Emmerton, he gave the Red Wings a 2-1 advantage 38 seconds before the first intermission.
Stalberg stayed in the locker room as the teams came out for the second period, having sustained a leg injury. The Blackhawks went up a man in the fourth minute when the Red Wings were whistled for too many men on the ice. Duncan Keith set Kane up for a one-timer from the right wing side with a beauty of a pass, but goalie Ty Conklin made the save.
Emmerton won a puck battle from Sean O’Donnell at the 8:08 mark of the second and found Brunnstrom, who beat Sami Lepisto and Corey Crawford to increase the Detroit lead to 3-1. At that point the ‘Hawks drew another penalty as Mike Commodore took down Dave Bolland just over a minute later. Fifteen seconds into Chicago’s third power play of the evening, Duncan Keith set up Seabrook’s lazer of a one-timer. Ty Conklin could only stab at it as it whizzed by, and the lead was now 3-2 Detroit.
Ninety seconds into the final period, the Blackhawks capitalized after Keith’s dump-in caromed off the glass and wound up in front of the net. Smith knocked in the equalizer as he was dragged down by a defender.
Detroit’s Smith laid out Chicago’s Smith at the 5:26 mark, leading to a five-minute major. The Blackhawks came up empty on the resulting power play, but converted another chance after Doug Janik was called for interfering with Toews with 11:35 to play.
Toews and Kane brought the puck into the offensive zone. Kane saw Marian Hossa, who like Kane was in his first game action in the preseason, coming down the middle of the ice. The resulting slap shot past Conklin provided the margin of victory with 11:02 left.
- Kane certainly had a big night in his return to action with a goal and assist, earning our newest center first star of the game honors.
- Kane and Hossa created a lot of scoring opportunities with number 88 in the middle, though they got pretty cutesy with their passing when a little selfishness might have produced some goals. All of Kaner’s points came via the power play with Toews.
- On the other hand, Kane won eight of twelve draws.
- Wednesday saw 20,078 in the United Center, the second-largest preseason crowd in the team’s history. Only last year’s exhibition opener drew more fans.
- Brendon Smith can expect to be the subject of Brenden Shannahan’s next video suspension, though he probably won’t be on Detroit’s final roster.
- The possibility of Smith and Stalberg missing the start of the season looms large for some prospects still with the team, namely Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad and Brandon Pirri. Smith and Stalberg looked like they were both on the opening night roster. Patrick Sharp is not a lock to return for the first game. Daniel Carcillo is suspended for the first two games. Rob Klinkhammer’s injured. Jeremy Morin and Phillipe Paradis are nursing concussions. The three youngsters may make the team by default.