By Brad Vandenberk
Hockey Day in America was celebrated Sunday and the Blackhawks entertained the United Center with some matinee action. The Stanley Cup champions, LA Kings, were in town and looking to take some revenge over the Hawks.
Game one of this season had the Hawks spoiling the Kings’ Championship banner raising ceremony, winning 5 -2. On Sunday, the Hawks were looking to maintain their dominance throughout the NHL. They currently have recorded a single point or better for 14 straight games. They are also playing their third home game over seven straight.
After a big win against the Sharks on Friday evening, the Hawks were looking to keep the momentum high against the Kings.
Ray Emery played his second straight game as Corey Crawford remains out with an upper body injury suffered in Tuesday night’s contest against the Ducks. Jonathan Quick was in the blue paint at the other end. Michal Roszival and Jamal Mayers were out of the Hawks line up. Daniel Carcillo is practising back with the big squad and looks to make his return in a few games.
It didn’t take the crowd long to get into the game when Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews broke in on a 2 on 1. The Kings were on their heels early with the Hawks fourth line dominating the fore check. As Pierre McGuire stated on the broadcast, the Hawks fourth line could be a second or third line on any team in the NHL the way they’re playing right now. This was the truth on this afternoon as Marcus Kruger, Michael Frolik and Brandon Bollig were having an exceptional first few shifts.
Finally, Chelsea Dagger was blaring in the UC. Duncan Keith found a wide open Brent Seabrook who had a stick-less Quick and a yawning cage. Seabrook buries his 50th career goal and puts the Hawks up 1-0.
The Kings didn’t see their first shot on Emery until the 11:44 mark of the period. The Hawks got their first opportunity on the power play as the Kings were caught with too many men on the ice.
The power play unit didn’t take long to capitalize. Keith continued his strong game with a slap pass to Toews in front of the net. The puck sits on the goal line and Toews pokes it over giving the Hawks a 2-0 lead.
The Kings stars start to wake up as Jeff Carter breaks in and tests Emery. The Kings get their turn on the power play as Bollig can’t contain the speed of Drew Doughty. He gets called for holding and the Hawks get to test their 2nd ranked penalty kill. During the power play Seabrook takes a shot right in the mid section. He collapses to the ice and once the play is stopped he makes his way to the Hawks dressing room.
The Hawks get another chance before the period ends to add to their lead as Davis Drewiske holds Toews up. The period ends with the Hawks outshooting the Kings 11-8 and Toews was a dynamo in the faceoff dot only loosing 1 draw all period.
Seabrook returns and is on the ice when the second frame opens. Seabrook is an important part to the Hawks D core and seeing him back on the ice puts the UC crowd at ease. Toews gets hit awkwardly into the end boards by Keaton Ellerby. He slowly makes it back to his feet and is still involved in the play.
Then, Patrick Sharp final gets the monkey off his back. He grabs a puck in the slot and fires it passed three sprawling Kings, including Quick. This is Sharp’s third goal on the season breaking a ten game goalless streak. He hasn’t scored since January 24, 2013.
Viktor Stalberg’s speed allows him to get past Drewiske and is tripped up in the process. The Hawks get another chance on the power play. After the Kings kill the penalty, they begin to shift the momentum through the middle of the period. Kyle Clifford is the next victim of the, closing your hand on the puck penalty, and heads to the sin bin. The Hawks don’t get any quality chances during the man advantage. Johnny Oduya makes a magnificent defensive effort getting in front of a Jeff Carter shot, saving a goal, but getting a mouth full of stick in the process. The buzzer sounds and the Kings are being outshot 32-18 and Toews still only has 1 faceoff loss in two periods.
The Kings picked up where they left off to open the final period.
The momentum shift was complete; The Kings swarmed the net and forced Sharp to get his stick into Carter’s hands and disrupt the shot but gets a penalty for hooking. Mike Richards capitalizes instantly firing a puck past a screened Emery and closing in on the Hawks lead, 3-1.
Emery was called upon to make some great saves as it seems the Hawks were comfortable with their two goal cushion. Sharp heads back to the box just nine minutes later slashing Jarret Stoll. Stoll follows Sharp to the box for diving. 4 on 4 hockey seems to favour the speedy Hawks, but not tonight.
Two minutes after Sharp exits the penalty box, captain serious tries to pass Doughty on a dump in and gets his stick up high in his face. Toews saunters over to the box and the Kings get a chance to trim the lead. Richards does it once again as he fires a shot from the top of the circle beating Emery and quieting the UC crowd 3-2 Hawks.
The Hawks are now blocking shots and trying to secure the victory. Jake Muzzin rattles Patrick Kane off the glass, but gets called for interference allowing the Hawks to add more of a cushion. The Kings D tightens up and keeps the Hawks off the score sheet in the third period.
With the announcement looming for the last minute of play, Oduya retaliates to a Kings forward crashing into Emery. He gets a 2 minute slashing call and the Hawks have to battle through a 6 on 4 with goaltender Quick heading to the Kings bench. The final horn sounds and the Hawks collect around Emery claiming their 12 win in 15 games.
-Blackhawks improve to 12-0-3, putting them within one game of tying the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks for the NHL record of sixteen consecutive games from the start of a regular season without a regulation loss. The Hawks will look to tie that record when they host rival Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
-Jonathan Toews was an absolute monster in the faceoff dot winning 13 of 19 face-offs.
-Duncan Keith led all Hawks with 26:15 of TOI. Brandon Bollig was the only Hawk that did not reach double digits for TOI.
-The Hawks went 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Kings went 2 for 4.
-Patrick Kane’s 8 game point streak came to an end.
-Brent Seabrook, Toews and Keith all had 2 points each and were the 3 stars respectively.
-Hawks outshot the Kings 37-27.
-Ray Emery continues to be perfect as he has now won all 4 games he has started this season.
-The Hawks are now 12 0 3 with 27 points and remain on top of the NHL standings.
-Who will beat these Hawks in regulation? The Vancouver Canucks fly into town on Tuesday. This will be a big test as the Canucks beat the Hawks in a shootout in Vancouver just 3 weeks ago.