Hawks special teams near perfect in Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes’ return to United Center; Hawks beat Panthers 6-2

Corey Crawford leaves game in 1st period with “lower body” injury

By Brad Vandenberk

After losing a close affair against the Ducks on Friday, it was time for the Hawks to play their final eastern conference match against the Florida Panthers at the UC.  This would be the first visit for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen since being traded down south.  This was also Kris Versteeg’s first game against his old team playing for his old team.  Fatigue seems to be creeping its ugly head into the dressing room of the Hawks.  They are currently suffering from a 3-game losing streak.  Though, they have battled in all 3 games to try and stay atop the western conference.  There was some good news coming into this game.  Bryan Bickell has begun skating again and is close to a return.  Andrew Shaw did play in this game after missing the last 2 with an upper body injury.  Michael Kostka was back on the Hawks roster after being activated off the IR.  Finally Nikolai Khabibulin is working his tail off in the gym, but is still some time away from returning.

Corey Crawford started in net for the home Hawks.  Because the Panthers are on a second of a back to back, Scott Clemmensen got the start.  Sheldon Brookbank, Kostka and Bickell were scratched.

The Hawks came out fast and furious in the opening minutes.  Ex Hawks Tomas Kopecky decides to play Niklas Hjalmarsson before the puck and gets called for interference just 57 seconds into the game.   Patrick Sharp makes them pay firing a point shot that finds the back of the net 1-0.  Ben Smith breaks in on a 2 on 1 and elects to keep the puck putting it over the net.  Next up Nick Leddy beats Clemmensen but not the post.  Sean Bergenheim runs into Michal Rozsival and gets called for tripping.  He also shots his mouth off getting to his feet so the ref tacked on another 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike.  Jonathan Huberdeau serves the penalty with Bergenheim heading to the room for some extra care.  The Hawks struggle to enter the zone.  Just as one penalty is about to expire, Brent Seabrook fires a puck over Clemmensen making the score 2-0.  At the 6:15 mark, Crawford goes to make a save and cannot get up off the ice.  The play continues until the refs notice the struggling tender.  Antti Raanta enters the game when Crawford is carried off the ice and straight to the dressing room.  Panthers get their first power play when Patrick Sharp heads to the box for retaliating with a slash on Matt Gilroy.  Raanta stays sharp and the Hawks kill the penalty.  Hawks kill off another Panthers power play when Marcus Kruger heads to the box for high sticking. The period ends with the Hawks up 2-0 and leading in shots 10-7.

Crawford is nowhere to be found as the Hawks spill onto the ice to start the second period.  37 seconds into the frame Sharp and Marian Hossa break in on a 2 on 1 and Sharp takes the shot.  Hossa sends home the rebound giving the Hawks a 3-0 lead.  Jeremy Morin works hard around the net and gets 3 chances to put one in himself.  Ex Hawk Olsen gets some sweet revenge scoring the Panthers first goal at 15:55.  Just a 1:08 later, Krys Barch and Brandon Bollig try to show the UC fans a little dance but get called for roughing instead.  Raanta comes out to play a puck and sends it right over to a Panther.  Marcel Goc comes across the crease and scores cutting the Hawks lead to 1.  The Hawks penalty kill needs to work once again when Rozsival sends a puck over the glass from his own end.  Hawks kill off their 3rd penalty of the game.  Raanta still looks a little shaky making some over played saves.  As the period is about to come to an end, Seabrook sends a puck on net and Clemmensen juggles the save leaving the puck loose on the crease.  Handzus dives and bats the puck in the net 4-2.  The Hawks continue to lead in the shot advantage 21-17.

Barch is sent to the box early in the third for roughing Kruger.  Hawks head back to the power play and make the Panthers pay once again.  Seabrook sends his patented slap shot on net and those beloved shin pads that Shaw loves so much, tips the puck in the net 5-2.  Shaw does get called for a penalty for hitting Brain Campbell after he distributes the puck.  The Hawks again kill off the penalty with Raanta staying in the crease and making some good saves.  Seems the ex Hawks had something to prove tonight.  Hayes skates hard to the net with the puck and knocks Raanta’s block off with the net minders helmet flying across the ice.  The puck did go in the net but for obvious reason the goal was called off.  Barch again, picks on the little guys and hits Kruger.  Bollig has just about enough and finally challenges Barch and the gloves litter the ice.  Bollig wins the slight edge in the fight.  The Hawks kill their 5th penalty of the game when Seabrook can’t contain Bergenheim breaking in.  Hopefully this will make up some ground from the basement of the NHL in the PK department.  With the fans on their feet cheering their team to victory, Versteeg takes a hit and passes a puck to Morin, who sends Brandon Saad on a breakaway.  He makes no mistake and opens up Clemmensen slipping it through the five hole.  The game ends 6-2 and the Hawks snap their 3 game slid.

Lines:

Sharp Toews Hossa                                         Keith Seabrook

Versteeg Handzus Kane                                                Oduya Hjalmarsson

Saad Shaw Morin                                            Leddy  Rozsival

Bollig Kruger Smith

Quick Hits:

-Hawks get outshot 35-32

-Hawks go 3/4 on the power play with the Panthers going 0/5.

-Keith once again led the Hawks in TOI with 25:34, next closest was Hjalmarsson 21:38

-Toews went 14/23 in the faceoff dot.  Handzus 11/20, Shaw 2/6, Kruger 4/8.

-The Patrick’s were at it again both getting 3 points Sharp (1G,2A) and Kane (3A).

-Half way through the second period it was announced that Corey Crawford would not return suffering from a lower body injury.  It’s unknown how long he will be out for.

-Hawks now hit the road back to Dallas on Tuesday to face the Stars once again.

Brad Vandenberk

@CMM_Brad

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