By Jon Fromi
Jonathan Toews showed why he was afforded the NHL’s Second Star of the Month for November in the Chicago Blackhawks first contest of December against the visiting New York Islanders.
The captain notched a goal and an assist in regulation, then had the deciding shootout goal as Chicago snatched two points in a 5-4 decision. The game was far from the performance the Blackhawks were looking for after a lackluster loss to Phoenix earlier this week.
Despite allowing 41 Islander shots on goal and failing to hold a third period lead, the ‘Hawks came up with just enough to claim points number 32 and 33.
The Blackhawks created some excitement in the opening minute when a Brent Seabrook shot from the blueline found iron. Duncan Keith fired another shot on Al Montoya that Viktor Stalberg was able to get a stick on. Toews’s put back was waved off as the whistle had blown before he could get to the puck.
Instead, it was Kyle Okposo who opened the scoring for the visitors, sneaking in between Niklas Hjalmarsson and the net to tap in a power play rebound at the 4:07 mark of the first. Chicago evened things up at the midway point of the period with a nice play by the fourth line.
Daniel Carcillo brought the puck into the Islanders zone and found Sean O’Donnell trailing the play. O’Donnell, in turn, found the tape of Andrew Brunette up the left side. Brunette converted in the open net to tie the game at a goal apiece.
Exactly four minutes later, P.A. Parenteau came around the back of the net and passed to Matt Moulson. Moulson’s wrist shot got by Corey Crawford and New York ended the first up 2-1.
The ‘Hawks would tie the score again when Ben Smith put back his own stuff attempt in the seventh minute. Late in the period, Toews potted a shorthanded goal when he beat Milan Jurcina to Keith’s clearing attempt with 1:09 to play.
Parenteau’s power play goal made it 3-3 seconds into the third, but Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp combined for Sharp’s twelfth goal of the season to give the ‘Hawks a 4-3 advantage.
Marty Reasoner picked Ben Smith’s pocket in the ninth minute and got the puck to Matt Martin. Martin passed to Nino Niederreiter, who benefitted from a sloppy change on defense by firing home the equalizer.
With just over four minutes to play, John Tavares got the puck past Crawford, but Hjalmarsson came to the crease and knocked the puck away and probably saved an Islander game-winner. Instead, the teams went to overtime.
Chicago could not manage a shot in the extra time, but extended the game to a shootout, where Toews went five-hole on Montoya on the Blackhawks first shot. Crawford turned away the first two Islanders shots and Moulson’s final attempt drew iron to end the contest on a positive note.
-Crawford wasn’t at his best Friday, but faced 41 shots, including 26 in the third period and overtime.
-O’Donnell and Steve Montador were both plus-2 on the night.
-Keith played over 29 minutes, with Nick Leddy clocking nearly 27. Hjalmarsson and Brent Seabrook were right around the 23 minute mark.
-The ‘Hawks will have to show more in St. Louis than they did last night. The fashion in which the points were earned is not going to cut it. On the other hand, good teams pull out games like this even when they aren’t at their best.