photo: Yahoo! Sports
By Brad Gardner
Ray Emery earned another start in net with the Anaheim Ducks in town and helped the Blackhawks beat his former team by a score of 4-1. Emery’s shutout bid was spoiled by Teemu Selanne with less than two minutes to play in the game, but the veteran goalie turned in another strong start for Chicago in collecting his fourth consecutive win in as many starts.
Emery’s cause was aided by the effort of the skaters in front of him. For all the ink the ‘Hawks top players have earned so far this season, it was Jamal Mayers and the fourth line that opened the scoring for Chicago at the 6:37 mark of the first.
Andrew Brunette won the puck on the forecheck against Francois Beauchemin and passed it to an open Mayers behind the net. Jonas Hiller was slow to cover his post and Mayers was able to flip the puck off the goalie and into the net.
Chicago extended the lead quickly at the start of the second after pressure from Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp gave the ‘Hawks possession in the Duck zone. Sharp picked up a loose puck and fed Hossa driving in all alone on Hiller. Hossa powered the backhander through the legs of Hiller just over a minute into the second period to put the Blackhawks up by a pair of goals.
A controversial no-goal call around the 8-minute mark of the second period seemed to take the wind out of the Hawks’ sails a bit, but they were again picked up by the penalty kill. That unit maintained the perfect stretch with a couple key kills following relatively forgivable Chicago penalties – Nick Leddy took a hook to keep Andrew Cogliano from shooting at an open net and Mayers earned his penalty by standing up for Marcus Kruger after he was leveled by Bobby Ryan in the neutral zone.
The ‘Hawks earned a power play of their own late in the second period. After having an apparent goal disallowed earlier, Dave Bolland made no mistake with his next chance when he was set up by Leddy. The blueliner carried the puck from end-to-end and around an Anaheim defenseman before setting up the trailer Bolland in the middle slot. Bolland sent it past Hiller’s stick side to give Chicago the 3-0 lead.
Chicago did not allow Anaheim to make a push early in the third and in fact extended the lead midway through the final frame. Sharp picked up the puck in the neutral zone and drove right between a group of four Ducks. He muscled his way out of the traffic and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Hiller and into the net.
Selanne would score his goal at the 18:13 mark of the third period after Jonathan Toews turned the puck over in his own zone. Palmieri made the initial play to strip Toews and Niklas Hagman’s quick cross pass to Selanne gave Emery no chance against career goal number 646 for the Finn.
– Daniel Carcillo missed the game due to an upper-body injury suffered during Wednesday against the Wild. Ben Smith was recalled from Rockford to take his place but ended up being a healthy scratch. Sami Lepisto was the third scratch for the ‘Hawks.
– Down a forward, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville inserted John Scott onto the fourth line with Mayers and Brunette. Scott scored his first point of the season, the second assist on Mayer’s opening goal. He collected a loose puck in the slot and made the ‘direct play’ to Brunette that got the Blackahwks out of their defensive zone.
– Scott also dropped the gloves for the first time this season. He challenged Sheldon Brookbank after the two spent some time jostling for position in front of the net. Scott’s reach gave him a distinct advantage and he landed a bushel of shots before the refs stopped the fight.
– Mayers fought as well in a separate incident from the second-period penalty for coming to Kruger’s aid. Mayers laid a solid hit that sent Cam Fowler to the ice and he was immediately approached by Matt Beleskey. This was an even shorter altercation, with Mayers landing just a couple shots before he was taken down.
– There was actual hockey played, but it was a fairly one-sided affair. Anaheim had some good shifts from their top two lines and threatened a bit with possession on the power play, but the Ducks were otherwise shut down by the home team. Considering all the talk about the ‘Hawks playing down to their competition of late, they played like the team that is now 21 points up in the standings tonight.
– One of the biggest advantages Chicago had on the night was at the faceoff dot. Kruger and Mayers combined for 15 faceoff wins and just three losses, with Kruger dropping only one draw all night. As a team, the ‘Hawks won a total of 31 faceoffs to Anaheim’s 19.
– Chicago’s power play finished 1 for 3 and has now converted in two consecutive games. The penalty kill squelched all three chances for the Ducks, making that unit a perfect 18-for-18 over the last six games.
– Three stars of the game… 3. Jamal Mayers, 2. John Scott, 1. Ray Emery
– Bolland’s no-goal call did not end up meaning a thing, but there will still be rumblings about the officiating after another unfathomable call leads to a 1-goal swing for the ‘Hawks. The call on the ice was an immediate no-goal with the initial assumption being that it was the result of a kick. Following the video review, the call was changed to a goalie interference (which cannot be reviewed). The NHL war room in Toronto apparently contacted the ‘Hawks booth later regarding the call to explain, with the grace of Tony Soprano, what really happened on the play.
– The Blackhawks next game will be at home against the Calgary Flames on Sunday at 6pm.
In addition to covering the Blackhawks for TheThirdManIn.com, Brad is also the Blackhawks’ correspondent at HockeysFuture.com.