By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks erased a third period deficit with three goals in the final seven minutes. Johnny Oduya led the attack with a goal and an assist as the ‘Hawks prevailed over the New York Rangers 4-3 in front of the 180th straight sellout crowd at the United Center.
Chicago got a big scoring opportunity seconds into the game when Duncan Keith made an area pass that Marian Hossa caught up to. Hossa beat the Ranger defense to the net, but Henrik Lundqvist snuffed out the shot.
From there, it was back and forth hockey with both teams getting their chances. Lundqvist and Ray Emery kept both teams honest along with their defenses. The ‘Hawks killed off the only penalty of the period, a delay of game call that came when returning defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson closed his hand on the puck late in the sixteenth minute.
The first team to blink was the Blackhawks. Twenty seconds after completing the penalty kill, Viktor Stalberg was prevented from clearing the zone by Artem Anisimov. Patrick Kane also had a chance to clear the puck but came up empty. John Mitchell gathered in the turnover and fed Anisimov, who beat Emery with 46 seconds remaining in the first period to make it 1-0 Rangers.
The teams continued to trade chances in the second period, with Emery and the ‘Hawks turning away several attempts. Chicago got a nice shift by the second line at the midway point that didn’t result in a goal. Stalberg was called for a trip, but again the Blackhawks neutralized the infraction.
In the fifteenth minute, in the Rangers’ zone, Bryan Bickell found Johnny Oduya at the blue line. Oduya feigned a shot to open a shooting lane, then got the puck toward the net. Andrew Shaw redirected the shot past Lundqvist at the 14:28 mark to tie the score. Chicago had a power play opportunity late in the period, but Lundqvist blocked a Jamal Mayers redirect attempt. Still, the score was knotted at a goal apiece entering the second intermission.
Shaw nearly got his second goal of the evening when he got in front of the net again in the third minute of the final period. However, Dave Bolland’s centering pass from behind the net bounced on the rookie and the shot was high.
New York regained the lead in the eighth minute after a Marcus Kruger turnover gave the Rangers the opportunity to gain the Chicago zone. Ryan McDonagh’s shot rebounded off of Emery’s pads and was knocked home by Brandon Prust at the 7:11 mark.
After Emery stopped a 2 on 1 shot attempt by Mitchell, Chicago brought the puck back into the Rangers zone, where Patrick Kane found Hossa next to the net. Hossa threaded the pass to Patrick Sharp, who got the puck over Lundqvist’s leg to tie the contest with 6:58 to play.
Just over a minute later, the ‘Hawks took their first lead of the game, started by a strong fore check by Jimmy Hayes. Hayes created a loose puck which Brian Boyle couldn’t corral. Marcus Kruger pushed the puck to Oduya, who drove a shot past Lundqvist’s glove side. Suddenly, Chicago led 3-2 with just under six minutes remaining.
John Tortorella made the move to pull Lundqvist with almost two minutes left. The Blackhawks gained control of the puck, leading to Sharp finding Kane for an important empty netter with 53 seconds left.
Once again, New York went with six skaters. The ploy paid off, with Brad Richards knocking in a loose puck with 40 seconds to go. Despite a wild finish, Chicago snuffed out the threat to claim the win.
-Shaw took the full force of Lundqvist’s helmet behind the Rangers goal five minutes into the game. In true Shaw fashion, he was stitched up and returned in time to get Chicago’s first goal.
-Brandon Bollig dropped the gloves, but it was with Mike Rupp, not John Scott. Maybe it was for the best as Bollig took the worse of the bout with Rupp. Scott won the ice time battle, playing 4:55 to Bollig’s 3:33.
-Chicago was outshot 25-22. Shaw led all ‘Hawks skaters with four. Kane added three shots, including the empty netter.
-Bickell celebrated his 26th birthday by recording an assist, his seventh point in his last dozen games.
-Jonathan Toews skated with the team this morning and finally confirmed that not only was he suffering from concussion symptoms, but that he hid those symptoms from the team for several games. This elicits mixed feelings; it’s great that Toews may be back in the lineup in due time, but not reporting symptoms can lead to catastrophic problems down the line.
-Dave Bolland’s bobblehead was missing the discolored and stitched up right eye area that is the living advertisement for the face shield.
-Hjalmarsson played 14:30 in his return from a concussion. Naturally, CSN chose him to face Sarah Kustock during the first intermission.
-Los Angeles who dropped a late lead to Detroit on Friday, and a 3-1 decision to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Thursday, visits Chicago on Sunday night.