By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks shook off forty minutes of frustration in Anaheim Friday afternoon, roaring back from a two-goal deficit with four third period tallies to beat the Ducks 6-5.
A career night for Jonathan Toews was eclipsed only by Patrick Sharp’s second career hat trick and the euphoria brought on by the ‘Hawks refusal to pack it in at The Pond.
Chicago was up against an offense that was plugging along at two goals a game. Naturally, Anaheim hit the two-goal mark just 2:13 into the contest. A strong forecheck by Corey Perry separated Niklas Hjalmarsson and the puck. Bobby Ryan was turned away once by Corey Crawford, but Ryan slammed his own rebound home to open the scoring.
Less than a minute later, Steve Montador left the puck in front of the net after blocking a Teemu Selanne blue line shot with his hand. Andrew Cogliano cleaned up the mess, and just like that the ‘Hawks found themselves down 2-0 and completely on their heels. Chicago didn’t manage a shot until the sixth minute; by then Anaheim had laid siege to Crawford with seven shots.
The turning point in the first was the killing of a questionable holding penalty on Toews with just over 14 minutes to play. Toews came out of the box and followed Patrick Kane into the Ducks zone. Kane set up a shot by Sharp from behind the net which found the post. Toews pushed the puck forward and Sharp banged home the second chance to make it 2-1 Anaheim.
Selanne slapped one past Crawford from the top of the right faceoff circle to give his team a 3-1 lead with 5:24 to go in the first period. Late in the period, the Chicago power play unit got on the board. Andrew Brunette let Steve Montador move across the middle, then found Dave Bolland for the one-timer that closed the Blackhawks’ deficit to 3-2 after one.
Chicago seemed to be controlling play in the second period, not allowing Anaheim a shot until the ninth minute. Unfortunately, that shot found twine as Ryan tapped in a loose puck to make it 4-2. The ‘Hawks outshot the Ducks 17-5 for the period, but had little to show for the effort. Even salvaging a point against Anaheim seemed far-fetched heading into the third period.
Then Toews went to work, beginning with a helpful toe.
Duncan Keith’s slap shot found the front of Toews’ skate, followed by the left post and the net 64 seconds into the final stanza. After cutting the lead to one, Towes stripped Ryan Getzlaf and fed Sharp coming into the slot for the equalizer 28 seconds later. Suddenly, the game was knotted at four with 18:28 remaining.
Toews won a faceoff in the Anaheim zone two minutes later. From there, Sharp’s wrister got past Jonas Hiller’s stick side to give the Blackhawks their first lead of the afternoon. With 16:27 left, the ‘Hawks led 5-4 and Hiller gave way to Dan Ellis.
Thanks to consecutive penalties by Perry and Saku Koivu, Chicago had a long stretch of power play time as the midpoint of the period approached. Toews lost his helmet in a battle along the boards, but still got to the net as Keith wound up for a shot. The helmetless captain knocked in the loose rebound for what turned out to be the game-winner with 10:38 to play.
Crawford and the ‘Hawks held off the desperate Ducks until the final seconds, when Anaheim pulled Ellis and went 6-on-5 for most of the last two minutes. Perry backhanded a rebound home with just over seven seconds left, but Bolland won the resulting faceoff to preserve the comeback.
Thoughts On Goal
-Despite being down a pair for most of the game until the last twenty minutes, Chicago controlled the puck to the tune of 26 shots in the opening two periods. They had 42 for the game, compared to 29 for Anaheim.
-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle got the equivalent of three timeouts as the ‘Hawks overwhelmed his team in the third. The tying goal was followed by a lengthy delay while some curtains were pulled shut behind the Anaheim net. Carlyle had another chance to settle his team when he switched goalies after Sharp’s third goal, then took an actual timeout late in the game. Still the Blackhawks marched on.
-Four of Toews career-high five points came in the first half of the final period.
-Sharp’s hat trick was the second of his career. His other three-goal effort also came with the ‘Hawks, November 17, 2007 in Detroit.
-Selanne is making $4 million for a sinking Ducks team that is fast playing their way out of playoff contention. Could I just dream for a moment what he could do on one of our top two lines if he ever asked out of Anaheim?
-Brent Seabrook skated 21 minutes in his return to the lineup.
-Brandon Pirri recorded five goals in his last two games in Rockford, including a hat trick Wednesday night. He leads the Ice Hogs in both goals (10) and points (21). If Chicago needs an emergency call up, Pirri has earned the assignment. He has 16 points in his last 11 games.
-Chicago ends the circus trip tomorrow night, or perhaps Sunday morning for us here in the Midwest, in Los Angeles. The puck drops at 9:30 p.m.