By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks let a two-goal lead evaporate in the final minutes, but got a surprising shootout goal from Andrew Shaw to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday night. Marian Hossa scored a pair of goals but missed most of the third period and may have suffered a dreaded upper body injury when he was hit in the back of the head by Jannick Hansen.
In the first period, the teams traded scoring chances in the first few minutes. The ‘Hawks top line held the puck in the Vancouver zone long enough for a couple of opportunities, the best coming when a Johnny Oduya slapper got redirected by Brandon Saad. The puck came out in front of the net but Jonathan Toews couldn’t get it by Cory Schneider.
Taking advantage of a bad shift change, Daniel Sedin got a breakaway that Emery knocked aside in the fifth minute. The Canucks got a power play when Brandon Bollig drew an instigator penalty when he went after Dale Weise, who had flattened Marcus Kruger along the boards.
Chicago fared better down a man, garnering two breakaway attempts by Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland. Schneider stopped both shots, but the ‘Hawks killed the penalty with relative ease.
Midway through the period, Patrick Kane hit Patrick Sharp with a nifty pass that sprung him for a breakaway. Schneider again denied Chicago’s third such opportunity.
Sedin got another one-on-one with Emery in the 14th minute off of a turnover, but Razor closed the Five Hole Café and the Canucks came up empty. Less than a minute later, however, the shop was open for business and Sedin took full advantage. Approaching from the right circle, he backhanded the puck through Emery to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead at the 13:34 mark.
Jonathan Toews drew a tripping penalty out of Jason Garrison with 3:11 left after an impressive move from behind the net. Toews was knocked into the goal by Keith Ballard in the ensuring power play, but the incident went uncalled, the ‘Hawks came away with nothing and Chicago went to the locker room down a goal.
In the second period, Emery stopped a tip-in attempt by Alex Burrows in the second minute. Kane led a 2-on-1 the other way a moment later but couldn’t connect with Sharp for the shot attempt. Kane got the puck to Oduya on the same shift, but the one-timer was turned away by Schneider. Viktor Stalberg drove to the net late in the fifth minute, only to be denied as well.
The ‘Hawks got caught with an extra man on the ice in the seventh minute. The officials whistles stayed in their pockets, which was fortunate for Chicago. Seconds later, Sharp took a feed from Kane at the left circle and drove the equalizer past Schneider 6:36 into the middle frame.
Ballard took a run at Andrew Shaw, ignoring the fact that Shaw didn’t have the puck. The interference call set up the ‘Hawks for their second power play of the evening. The puck stayed in the Canucks zone but didn’t wind up in the net. Late in the power play, however, Maxim Lapierre cross-checked Kane and Chicago had an extra two minutes.
The Blackhawks kept the pressure on, more so when Ryan Kesler broke his stick. 13:48 into the period, Hossa banged home a slap shot past Schneider, who was screened well by Shaw. Duncan Keith and Oduya provided the assists for a 2-1 Chicago lead.
Four minutes later, Hossa struck again. After winning control of the puck in the left corner, Hossa made his way to the front of the net. With just about the width of a puck open to him, he backhanded a shot off of Schneider’s left skate and the goal post. This gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 advantage at the 17:15 mark.
Near the end of the period, Edler was called for roughing Sharp, who was called for a similar infraction seconds later. In the 4-on-4 action that followed, Vancouver looked to get a goal with 1:21 left. Emery got the left leg on the puck as it approached the goal line. The call looked to be a goal at first, but was then waved off. Replay confirmed the latter call and the Blackhawks went into the second intermission up 3-1.
The third period started off with a scary moment when Hansen got a forearm into the back of Hossa’s head a minute and ten seconds in. Both players were contending for a airborne puck, though Hansen didn’t seem to be reaching for it. Hossa went down, stayed down for a good long while and was taken to the dressing room.
Vancouver killed the penalty and started to put the pressure on Emery. The Canucks had a big opportunity in the fourth minute when a loose puck was cleared by Emery and the ‘Hawks defense. The ‘Hawks then spent some extended time in the Vancouver zone.
Hansen got behind Michal Rozsival and tried to sneak a shot past Emery but was stopped. At the 8:17 mark, Dave Bolland was called for interference to give the Canucks another power play opportunity.
Toews was called for interference 34 seconds into the power play, but Kesler was also whistled for diving to negate what could have been a 5-on-3 situation. Vancouver had several good looks, but the ‘Hawks PK was again up to the task. As the penalty expired, Bolland led an odd man rush that resulted in Daniel Sedin interfering with Saad.
As the final period melted away, there was action on both ends as the two rivals took it to the men in net. Stalberg, Sharp and Bryan Bickell all had chances that Schneider denied.
The Canucks gained another power play when Rozsival was charged with hooking. Emery fended off a point-blank chance by Kessler on the delayed penalty, but Vancouver scored on a shot by Alexander Edler. The lead was cut to 3-2 with 2:42 left.
With 93 seconds to go the Canucks called their timeout and pulled Schneider. Shaw won a big draw, but Oduya couldn’t get the pass down ice. Following another draw, Kevin Bieksa’s shot from the point got over Emery and with 1:01 remaining, Vancouver tied the contest 3-3. Once again, these two teams would require extra time.
Saad and Stalberg hooked up for a prime scoring chance with 2:13 left in OT but Stalberg’s shot was turned away. Sharp got a drive on the net soon after but the puck was rolling on him. Sharp found Bolland at the right circle in the final seconds, but this game would be decided by a shootout.
Toews backhand attempt met Schneider’s pads, but Emery stopped Jordan Schroeder cold. Kane stick handled a shot that slid into the net after bounding off of Schneider’s glove. Chris Higgins went wide and beat Emery glove side to tie things up. Shaw came in hard and went forehand-backhand to find the net. Kesler’s attempt was gloved by Emery to seal the victory.
-Chicago outshot the Canucks 16-6 in a pivotal second period and 43-42 for the game. Emery, who let in a softie earlier, rallied and made some tough stops while the ‘Hawks gained control of the game. Some effective screens didn’t help Emery late, but he stopped 29 shots and remained undefeated on the season.
-The ‘Hawks definitely got away with one before Sharp’s goal. That, combined by what could have been a goal call late in the second period might leave Canucks fans yearning for what could have been. Yearn away. I’ll take the two points.
-I’m sure there will be some folks jumping up and down with the ‘Hawks getting a point for the 16th consecutive time to begin the season. Between jumps, consider that Chicago was in control of the contest with minutes to play and nearly let a big conference game slip away.
-The power play scored for the fourth straight game, though it was a 5-on-3 ½ after Kesler’s stick broke.
-Hossa was the first star of the game, but did not come out to accept his honor. It didn’t look like Hansen was making a play on the puck. Coach Joel Quenneville said that he looked O.K. after the game, but that tomorrow will bring more definite answers.
-Quenneville also said that Hossa would have taken the third shootout attempt if he were available. Anyone who correctly predicted that Shaw was coming out for the last attempt should head for Vegas immediately.