By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a weak effort in the opening minutes of Thursday’s game with visiting Winnipeg. The Blackhawks used four unanswered goals to prevail in the United Center by a score of 4-3. Patrick Kane was the star of the game with a goal and two assists on the night. However, two players making their debut in the Indian head sweater, Daniel Carcillo and Ray Emery, were vital in the besting of the Jets.
Carcillo, who returned after serving a two-game suspension incurred last season, skated well with Kane and Marian Hossa, who accounted for half of Chicago’s goals on the night. Emery was between the pipes in place of Corey Crawford. Like the rest of the squad, he was able to shake off a less than promising start to the contest.
Chicago staked the Jets an early lead with Jim Slater potting two first period goals on redirects. After a giveaway by Jonathan Toews, Johnny Oduya fired a shot on goal that Slater put past Emery at the 4:24 mark to open the scoring. He then tipped in a shot by Ron Hainsey between Emery’s legs three minutes later to send Winnipeg out to a 2-0 lead.
‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called his timeout and delivered a wake-up call to his charges. The United Center faithful would soon see results.
The momentum changed after Patrick Kane drew a tripping penalty on Tobias Enstrom at the 8:35 mark. Less than a minute into the power play, Kane put a shot on net. Andrew Brunette flipped in the loose puck past Ondrej Pavelec after hustling to prevent a clearing try by the Jets a few seconds earlier. The lead was cut in half with 10:15 to go in the period.
Carcillo started Chicago’s push for the tying goal in the sixteenth minute, going along the boards to help Hossa gain control of the puck. Hossa skated down the left side and found Kane open with 3:10 left. Kaner’s aim was true, and the two teams went to the locker room knotted at two.
Hossa broke the tie 33 seconds into the second, teaming up with Nick Leddy and Kane to make the score 3-2 Blackhawks. With 16:51 to go, Kyle Wellwood got a puck on goal that appeared to find its way into the net. However, it was not ruled a goal on the ice and video review did not result in the Jets being awarded the equalizer.
Chicago built a 4-2 lead with a great shift by Dave Bolland’s line, which generated a host of scoring chances all evening. Bryan Bickell recovered the puck after his shot off a nice Michael Frolik feed was blocked. Not to be denied, Bickell gathered the puck behind the net and found Bolland on the left side for the score.
Wellwood had a breakaway opportunity after coming out of the box midway through the period, but lost his footing. However, with 5:26 to play in the second, Wellwood collected a rebound in front of the net and sent one off Bolland’s skate to cut the ‘Hawks lead to 4-3.
Emery turned away 11 shots in the third period to preserve the Chicago lead. He stopped a one-timer by former Blackhawk Andrew Ladd in the twelfth minute with a nice pad save. In the waning seconds, he dove on a loose puck in front of the net as the clock ran out on Winnipeg.
Chicago moves to 2-1 this season. The Blackhawks close out their brief home stand Saturday night when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
-For all the debate on which Carcillo would show up, his Chicago premier was a smash hit. Carcillo was active early, resisted taking retaliatory penalties, and provided an edge to Kane and Hossa. He was credited with four hits and a well-earned assist. He drew an elbowing penalty out of Brett MacLean, and set up Hossa with a potential goal midway through the third. We may not get that performance night in and night out, but the guy made a big first impression.
-Emery, who like Carcillo had been scrutinized throughout training camp, saved 27 of 30 shots on the night. He was victimized by a pair of deflections, but kept the tying goal out of the net in the final 20 minutes. Emery did his job; he was good enough to get the win for the Blackhawks on a night where the smart play was to keep Crawford and his groin on the bench.
-Bickell added a physical presence again Thursday, nearly taking Enstrom over the boards between the benches late in the second period.
-Kane won 10 of 14 faceoffs and now has five points in his first three games. The only ‘Hawk who was under 50 percent at the dot was Marcus Kruger, who won just two of his six draws.
-Something I’ve noticed about Steve Montador: he wore a visor in Buffalo but isn’t sporting one with the Blackhawks.
-Kruger and Rostislav Olesz both skated limited minutes, though the fourth line was used sparingly Thursday. With Viktor Stalberg’s return imminent and Ben Smith getting closer to being cleared to play, Kruger and Olesz may be candidates for a trip on West I-90 next week.