By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks returned to the United Center Tuesday to take on the team directly below them in the Western Conference standings, the Anaheim Ducks. The ‘Hawks led after two periods, but lost the lead late and suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to begin a seven-game home stand.
Viktor Fasth won his sixth straight start this season, stopping 28 of the 30 shots managed by the Blackhawks.
In the opening period, Chicago had a nice chance created by Brandon Saad, who won a battle for the puck, took it into the Ducks zone and passed to Jonathan Toews. Toews got behind the net and set up Saad in front of the net, but Fasth stopped the attempt.
A too many men on the ice penalty gave the ‘Hawks an early power play, but Anaheim’s Cory Perry had the best scoring chance in the resulting two minutes when he took a couple of whacks at a rebound in front of Corey Crawford.
The Ducks gained the man advantage when Michal Rozsival was called for hooking after turning over the puck at the 13:00 mark. Crawford made an incredible glove on Perry after a Brent Seabrook turnover and the PK unit, led by Marcus Kruger, took care of the rest of the infraction. The ‘Hawks were prone to the giveaway in the first 20 minutes, with seven turnovers to just two for Anaheim.
Marian Hossa took a drop pass from Toews and sent a lazer that Fasth handled in the 17th minute. Saad made a nice drive to the net late in the period, but again the Ducks goalie turned away the shot attempt. Going into the first intermission, there was no score.
Anaheim took the lead minutes into the second period. After Viktor Stalberg was called for holding, the Ducks got a power play goal that occurred when Ryan Getzlaf’s pass attempt to Perry hit Seabrook’s stick, leaving Crawford no chance at the save. The ‘Hawks drew a hooking call against Sheldon Souray, but again Chicago came up empty.
At exactly the midpoint of the second period, Bryan Bickell laid a hit on Getzlaf that knock him off his feet in the corner of the Anaheim zone. Brad Staubitz jumped Bickell and the two players dropped the gloves and wrestled to the ice.
Staubitz was slapped with an instigator penalty. Seven seconds into the power play, Nick Leddy took a pass from Patrick Sharp and slapped a one-timer off the post and past Fasth to tie the game.
With 9:15 to go in the second, Saad took a pass from Toews and left his feet near the left faceoff circle to send a shot on goal. The shot bounced off of Fasth and then off of his back and toward the net.
Lucas Sbisa made an attempt to stop the puck from crossing the goal line just before the net was dislodged. After reviewing the replay, Saad was awarded a goal and the ‘Hawks led 2-1.
Johnny Oduya was whistled for a high stick at the 11:22 mark. A minute later, Michael Frolik interfered with Teemu Selanne to give Anaheim sixty seconds of 5-on-3 advantage. The ‘Hawks held firm for the next two minutes, with Frolik returning from the penalty box and getting off a shot on goal that nearly got by Fasth.
Niklas Hjalmarsson got a stick on what could have been the equalizer late in the period. The ‘Hawks made a rush to the net, but Andrew Shaw plowed into Fasth as he tried to collect a pass. Crawford stopped Selanne at point-blank range to help deny the first half of the power play as the period ended with the score Chicago 2, Anaheim 1.
Starting the third period down a man, the ‘Hawks killed the rest of the penalty with help from Hossa getting a stick on Bobby Ryan’s attempt. The play was back and forth until the 7:05 point of the third when Bickell was tripped by Francois Beauchemin to put Chicago back on the power play.
Leddy got off a shot that was redirected by two Ducks but skidded past the net. Other than that, the best scoring opportunity was once again an Anaheim shorthanded attempt.
After the power play expired, Selanne walked the puck toward Crawford but was stopped by Oduya before he could get off a shot. Getzlaf attempted to go upstairs in the 12th minute, but the shot wound up in Crawford’s glove.
With 2:40 left, Patrick Kane was knocked off the puck. Beauchemin kept the puck in the ‘Hawks zone and found Perry, who in turn made a pass to Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy’s shot was tipped in by Andrew Cogliano from the left side of the net to knot the game at two goals apiece.
With just nine ticks remaining, Toni Lydnam interfered with Saad to give Chicago a power play. The action carried over into extra time with the ‘Hawks owning a 4-on-3 advantage. Anaheim killed the penalty, but soon after Patrick Sharp caught a stick from Lydnam for another Chicago power play.
Hossa, Kane, and Sharp banged away at Fasth to no avail. Joel Quenneville called his timeout midway through the two minutes to give his best players additional ice time, but the Ducks turned the rest of the power play aside.
A turnover by Saad allowed Selanne to get one last backhand attempt on goal. Crawford absorbed the shot and the teams advanced to the shootout stage.
Leading off for Chicago was Toews, who went five-hole on Fasth. The Ducks goalie got a pad on the puck, but couldn’t keep it in the net. Nick Bonino deked Crawford to match Toews.
Kane’s backhand attempt found Fasth’s pad before Perry beat Crawford stickside. Saad drew the last ‘Hawks attempt, but was denied by Fasth’s right pad to end the game.
-Crawford had 29 saves in regulation and overtime with a couple of outstanding plays. It’s hard to blame him for the two shots that went in. He seemed pretty frustrated when addressing the media, but Quenneville rightfully credited him for the ‘Hawks picking up a point.
-Despite coming up short in the shootout, this might have been Saad’s best game as a pro. He was all over the ice, drew a couple of penalties, and had a highlight-reel shot for his second goal of the season.
-Pierre Thomas, an Illinois alumnus now playing for the New Orleans Saints, credited a young man for the tips that led to his success at Shoot The Puck. Suppose Patrick Sharp should pick the kids brains?
-Kruger was seven of ten from the dot, including a big one early in his own zone at the start of the first Ducks power play. Toews won 16 of his 25 draws. Dave Bolland? He won six and lost twelve on the night.
-Bickell really brought his lunch pail with him Tuesday night. Knocking Getzlaf on his keister was a turning point in the contest. It wasn’t his only big hit of the night, either. Bickell provided some physical edge in his 11:23 of ice time.
-Chicago still has not been defeated in regulation this season. On Friday, the Sharks come to town seeking vengeance for the ‘Hawks handing them a 5-3 loss in San Jose last week.