Nov 102013

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks completed a sweep of a back-to-back weekend Sunday. The Hawks bested the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 in a see-saw affair that saw Chicago’s depth prevail with some big goals from the lower lines.

The win, coupled with a 5-2 decision over Dallas on Saturday night, is Chicago’s fifth in the last six games. Here’s a look at a four-point weekend.

Saturday vs Stars-Though the Hawks were visiting Dallas, it was the Chicago stars that came out to shine in a 5-2 victory.

First Period-Dallas opened the scoring in the seventh minute after Shawn Horcoff gained entrance to the Blackhawks zone. Horcoff dropped the puck off to Jordie Benn just inside the blue line. Benn sent the puck to Trevor Daley, who fired on the Chicago net, where Horcoff and Cody Eakin were there to attack. Eakin backhanded the loose puck past Corey Crawford and gave the Stars a 1-0 lead.

The Hawks registered the equalizer late in the period when Jonathan Toews came from behind the net and found Marian Hossa at the left post. Hossa beat Kari Lehtonen at the 16:51 mark and the teams went to the locker room tied 1-1.

Second Period-Both goalies kept the opposition at bay until Tyler Seguin took a pass from Jamie Benn at the right circle. Seguin sent his seventh goal of the season off the crossbar and into the net. Late in the seventh minute, the Stars again led 2-1.

A few minutes later, Patrick Sharp beat two skaters to a loose puck in the right corner and delivered a pass to Patrick Kane at the circle. Kane skated to the net and centered to Toews. Toews initial shot was denied, but the loose puck looked to be knocked in by Erik Cole to give the captain his ninth goal this season.

Late in the period, Sharp got things started again, stripping Eakin of the puck and bringing into the Dallas zone.  Sharp centered to Andrew Shaw, who found Kane at the right circle for the one-timer over Lehtonen’s glove to make it 3-2 Hawks at the 18:15 mark. Kane was sprung for a breakaway opportunity late in the period, but Lehtonen made the blocker save and Chicago’s lead remained one going into the second intermission.

Third Period-Crawford had an adventure when Cole knocked him down as the Hawks goalie was playing at puck in the Chicago zone, but he did stop all nine shots he faced in the last 20 minutes. Hossa provided breathing room late in the game, taking a pass from Sharp up the ice and beating Lehtonen stick side with 1:41 to play.

Niklas Hjalmarsson capped the scoring with a empty-netter that went the length of the ice to provide the final margin of victory.

Three Stars-Eakin (third), Hossa (second), Sharp (first).


Sunday Night vs Oilers

First Period-Things started slowly for the Hawks, who didn’t give Devin Dubnyk much to do in the first seven minutes. Meanwhile, Edmonton sent four shots at Crawford. Brandon Pirri beat Dubnyk but hit the goal post with a shot in the ninth minute. From that point, the Hawks began dominating possession.

Toews came up with a loose puck and had a two-on-one with Hossa. However, Nick Schultz laid out and snuffed the opportunity. Johnny Oduya sent a shot on goal in the eighteenth minute that was knocked into the air and gloved by Dubnyk.

Brandon Saad kept a puck alive in the Oilers zone, then went to the net to collect a loose puck created when Pirri’s pass attempt to Kane was deflected. Saad’s tap-in found twine at the 18:23 mark and Chicago led 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Second Period-Edmonton came out with some pressure and quickly evened the contest when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins beat Crawford short side and high just 54 seconds into the period. Chicago had an open net and a bouncing puck a minute later but couldn’t convert the chance.

Taylor Hall sent the puck over the glass in the Oilers zone, giving the Hawks the game’s first power play. However, Chicago couldn’t do much with it. Sam Ganger earned a penalty shot with 15:47 to play but couldn’t get a shot off on Crawford.

The Oilers were definitely the aggressors in the second period, going on the power play in the eighth minute with Saad was called for elbowing. Edmonton got a one-timer from the right circle from Nail Yakupov at the 8:55 mark to put the Oilers up 2-1.

Michal Rozsival saved a goal soon after when he cleared a puck that had slid by Crawford. A few shifts later, Pirri took a high stick from Ryan Jones to put the Hawks on the power play. Some pucks got to the net but nothing crossed the goal line.

A furious back-and-forth late in the period led to Saad gaining control of the puck and entering the Edmonton zone.  Philip Larsen knocked the puck away, losing his stick in the process. Saad collected the loose puck and centered to Shaw, who knocked the pass past Dubnyk to tie the contest at 17:17. Dubnyk made several outstanding saves to keep the Hawks from taking the lead and after two periods the score was knotted at two goals apiece.

Third Period-The Hawks got off to a better start, putting together some impressive shifts in the first five minutes. Chicago tied the game in the sixth minute on an opportunistic goal by Bryan Bickell.

Shaw won a faceoff in the Oilers zone, leading to Rozsival firing a shot that Dubnyk thought he had absorbed. That wasn’t the case. Bickell collected the rebound and made a deposit in the bank of twine to put the Hawks up 3-2 at the 5:33 mark.

The momentum shifted back the Oilers way a few minutes later after Leddy was called for hooking Yakupov. David Perron redirected a shot by Nugent-Hopkins up and over Crawford to make it 3-3 7:58 into the final period.

In the tenth minute, Kane was held by Jesse Joensuu and the Hawks were back on the power play. No goal was scored, but soon after the fourth line was able to break the tie. Oduya kept the puck in the Oilers zone, leading to Ben Smith taking possession. Smith fired to the net, where Marcus Kruger took the pass and completed a wraparound past Dubnyk’s right pad, making it 4-3 Chicago at 11:44 of the period.

Schultz was tagged with interfering with Sharp to leave Edmonton a man down with 7:00 to play. This time the Hawks made it hurt, with Duncan Keith potting his first goal of the season from just inside the blue line. Less than two minutes after regaining the lead, Chicago now owned a 5-3 advantage.

As the final minutes ticked away, Oduya and Yakupov got a little chippy, the result of which was Yakupov going to the penalty box with 2:44 to go. Edmonton wasn’t done yet, with Schultz scoring a shorthanded tally with 1:28 left. Down 5-4, the Oilers never got a chance to pull Dubnyk, as Kruger won an offensive draw with 26 seconds remaining. The fourth line held the puck in the Oilers zone and the clock ran out with the Hawks on top.

Three Stars-Larsen (third), Keith (second), Saad (first).

Weekend Musings-

-Chicago is now 12-2-4 on the season and has totaled 28 points so far in 2013-14.

-The Hawks dominated the faceoff dot Sunday, going 50-23. No Chicago skater was under 50 percent. Pirri won 58 percent of his draws and was the worst of the group.

-Rozsival took a puck to the face late in the game while on the Hawks bench, courtesy of Perron. He did not return to action.

-Anyone else wondering why Sheldon Brookbank is taking Jeremy Morin’s minutes? I hope Morin is learning whatever lesson Joel Quenneville wants him to learn.

-Quenneville seems to be using Kruger, Bollig and Smith as his checking line. At least he is putting that line out there in key defensive situations.

-For those of you wondering when Antti Raanta is coming to save us from Nikolai Khabibulin, Raanta left Saturday night’s game in Rockford after two periods. I don’t think he got on a bus to Chicago-he took a charge in the second period and may need a game or two off. So…Khabibulin starts in Nashville this Saturday?

–Weekend Lines

Bickell-Shaw-Brookbank (though a lot of guys skated on this line for Brookbank)




Jon Fromi

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