By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks definitely showed up at Rogers Arena Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the return of Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews to the line up was spoiled with 37 saves by Cory Schneider and an overtime tally by the Sedin twins.
Chicago picked up a point in the first game on the road over the next three weeks, but Vancouver prevailed by a score of 3-2.
The momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the opening period. Vancouver got an early opportunity when David Booth beat Niklas Hjalmarsson for control of a puck. Booth found himself fight in front of Corey Crawford 90 seconds into the game, but his shot was knocked away.
Andrew Shaw drew a clipping penalty from Keith Ballard that the Canucks killed in the fourth minute. Patrick Sharp found Marian Hossa streaking up the ice and it appeared as if he would get a breakaway attempt on Cory Schneider. Alex Burrows make a nice play to thwart Hossa, then helped set up the game’s first goal at the 7:58 mark.
Vancouver was turned away several times by Crawford before Edler set up Ryan Kesler. The flight path of Kesler’s wrist shot was altered by Duncan Keith and past Crawford to give the Canucks a 1-0 advantage.
In the twelfth minute, Brent Seabrook flipped the puck behind the Vancouver net, where Steve Montador got control before coming out and finding Jamal Mayers in front of the crease. Mayers whiffed on his initial attempt, but persisted with a successful shot through Schneider’s legs to tie the game 1-1.
Both goalies stood tall in the face of several good shots on goal in the last eight minutes. Though the Canucks were able to sustain possession in the Chicago zone and outshot the Blackhawks 12-9, the teams were even on the scoreboard going into the first intermission.
The back and forth action continued in the middle stanza, with both teams garnering quality scoring chances. The Blackhawks controlled the action and outshot Vancouver 15-6 for the period. Thanks to Schneider, Chicago could not convert.
Schneider denied a streaking Viktor Stalberg in the eighth minute after two nice passes from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Late in the second, he dove across the open net and got a glove on an attempt by Brendan Morrison following Morrison’s steal behind the net. The score remained unchanged after 40 minutes.
The Blackhawks found the combination to Schneider early in the third period. Stalberg finished another attempt from Kane and Toews just 1:17 in. Three minutes later, a turnover led to Cory Hodgson’s breakaway goal to knot the game a two goals apiece.
For the next ten minutes, the two teams squared off in an attempt to win the game in regulation. Both goalies were up to the task. Chicago had the game’s second power play with 5:29 left but again came up empty. Kane got a shot on net that hit Salo’s stick and trickled toward the goal line, but Schneider got help in the form of the post.
With 30 seconds remaining, Burrows found himself with an opportunity following a turnover. Hjalmarsson came up with a big block to extend the game for another five minutes.
Toews and Stalberg would both have prime chances turned away in overtime. The end came with 1:23 left in extra time. Henrik Sedin saw brother Daniel open in front of Crawford. From behind the net, Henrik flipped the puck over the sticks of Crawford and Duncan Keith. Daniel did the rest, ending the contest.
-The action was of playoff intensity, especially with Schneider, and to a lesser extent Crawford putting on an exhibition in their respective nets. Crawford just can’t catch a break. He gives up a deflected shot and a breakaway and runs into a huge night from Schneider.
-Chicago came out of the break in better form than they went into it. They did manage a point in a hostile environment, but it doesn’t help that both Detroit and Nashville won earlier in the evening.
-I thought Brendan Morrison had a nice debut for the ‘Hawks. Just a bit more elevation would have finished off a nice defensive play. He played over 18 minutes and showed some of the passing touch that could serve his new team well.
-Duncan Keith played over 30 minutes. John Scott played less than six, including a big goose egg in the third period. Scott came off the ice from his final shift with 7:46 to go in the second period. That probably wasn’t a good idea to pile on the minutes right away on the big road trip.
-Andrew Shaw took a beating over the course of the night, as did most of the ‘Hawks. Vancouver outhit Chicago by a wide margin (33-16), of course. On the other hand, the Blackhawks did control the puck for the bulk of the contest. (editor’s note: Somehow, official scorers in Vancouver only had the Canucks getting credit for two hits directed on Shaw – the first from Ballard, then Edler – both in the third period. Shaw was credited with 4 of the Hawks’ 16 hits himself. Maxim Lapierre got credit for hitting Steve Montador 4 times in the same shift in the 11th minute of the first.)
-If the Blackhawks can repeat the effort throughout Western Canada, picking up five points on the first leg of this three-stage road trip isn’t a far-fetched notion.
In addition to providing game recaps for The Third Man In, you can also read Jon’s Blackhawks thoughts at BleacherReport.com