Sharp & Hossa – photo: Yahoo! Sports
By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks got three-point nights each from Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp Thursday night while visiting the New York Islanders.
Hossa notched his 400th career NHL goal in a 3-2 overtime victory. Despite letting a 2-0 advantage melt away, the ‘Hawks came up with a big road effort to claim another two points.
The Islanders nearly drew first blood five minutes in when Kyle Okposo picked off Sharps attempt to pass to Duncan Keith in the Islanders zone. Okposo hit John Tavares with the puck, but Ray Emery stopped the shot attempt with help from some back pressure from Keith.
Instead, it was Chicago who opened the scoring at the 11:42 mark when Hossa went to the bank off of New York goalie Al Montoya. The fortunate bounce resulted in Hossa reaching goal number 400, and the ‘Hawks led 1-0.
Chicago doubled the advantage early in the second. Niklas Hjalmarsson stripped Okposo of the puck and found Hossa near the red line with a long pass. Hossa came up the boards and into the Islander zone before finding Sharp, who one-timed a lazer over Montoya high on the stick side.
Late in the period, defenseman Travis Hamonic slapped one past Emery to cap off an Islander push in the Chicago zone. Down 2-1, New York got a golden chance to tie the score soon after when successive penalties by Patrick Kane and Dave Bolland resulted in almost two minutes of 5-on-3 time for the home team. The ‘Hawks were able to weather the storm as the second period ran out, then came out in the first minute of period three and snuffed out the rest of the penalty.
Chicago had a chance to restore the two goal advantage midway through the period as Kane led an odd-man rush. His pass to Daniel Carcillo was off the mark and the Islanders brought the puck back into the ‘Hawks zone. Steve Staios fired a puck on goal after taking a pass from Frans Nielsen. Michael Grabner got enough of the shot to guide it past Emery, and with 9:08 to play it was dead even.
Chicago’s penalty kill came up big again in the final minutes when Carcillo threw a left hand at Okposo after the whistle to draw a roughing violation.
In overtime, it was Hossa that got things started by taking control of the puck from Staios in Chicago’s zone. After Sharp joined him on the rush, Hossa patiently brought the puck to the net and fired a shot on Montoya. Sharp collected the rebound and drove home the game-winner.
-Sharp received the first star of the game honors for his two-goals and an assist, but I thought Hossa’s overtime play was just as deserving of that honor.
-Sharp was certainly not chopped liver, though. He now has 10 goals in his last 11 games. You may not have heard Pat Foley mention it, but Sharpie will also be getting an assist for a baby his wife is having soon.
-The PK unit came up large, turning away six Islanders opportunities. The last 50 seconds of the 5-on-3 was most impressive, as the ‘Hawks did not allow New York to even get off a shot in that time.
-Chicago is 5-1-1 over the last two weeks despite some inconsistent play.
-Emery stopped 31 of 33 shots as Corey Crawford looked on from a seat in the stands. If Joel Quenneville follows his usual pattern, Emery will start again Sunday in Chicago against the Sharks and stay in as long as he wins.
-Sami Lepisto was on the ice for the first time in a while (scratched the past eight games). He was even in 12:31 of ice time, mostly with Steve Montador. His play drew praise from Quenneville. Maybe this suggests another night in the lineup Sunday.
-The Chicago Stadium was a building for the ages. Do Islanders fans revere the Nassau Coliseum in a similar way? I’m guessing no.