Toews’ OT penalty costly; Avalanche prevail 3-2, hand Hawks a 5th January loss

By Brad Vandenberk

After a victory on Sunday night at the UC over the woeful Oilers, the Blackhawks are slowly trying to climb out of this mini slump that they have on the go.  The road ahead did not get any easier when the Colorado Avalanche invade the United Center on Tuesday evening.  Then, on Friday it’s the NHL best team the Anaheim Ducks.  And finally, an afternoon Stanley Cup rematch is on tap on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when the pesky Boston Bruins come to town.  The Avalanche would be a great test for the reigning Cup champs to test their ability as a team and try to start racking up some wins. 

Corey Crawford played lights out in Montreal on Saturday allowing the Hawks to escape with at least 1 point.  The Avalanche always seem to give the Hawks trouble no matter what arena they play.  The last time these two teams met, was on December 27 when they showed the young Avs a thing or two beating them badly 7-2.  This could shape up to look like a first round playoff matchup if the Hawks can’t beat the Blues for top spot in the Central Division. Crawford got the call again and the Avalanche countered with Semyon Varlamov.  Sheldon Brookbank and Michael Kostka were the scratches.

Patrick Sharp had a huge jump in his step right off the opening faceoff.  He chases a puck in the Avs zone and Erik Johnson gets called for interference 10 seconds into the game.  During the power play Andre Benoit blocks a shot and heads to the bench and then the dressing room.  Nick Leddy stops a Ryan O’Reilly attempt and Crawford stands strong.  Michal Handzus’s new linemates work the puck in the offensive zone with some quality chances.  Marian Hossa storms toward the net from the corner to try and stuff it past Varlamov.  Duncan Keith tries to break out of his own zone and Gabriel Landeskog hooks his hands sending the Hawks to their second power play.  The Hawks work a clinic on the man advantage but Varlamov is unbeatable.  Finally Colorado breaks the tie.  Tyson Barrie fires a harmless looking shot from the point and it sneaks past Crawford 1-0.  At the 4:10 mark of the period Kris Versteeg heads to the box for hooking well behind the play.  Good old 10 seconds later, O’Reilly finishes off a tic-tac-toe passing play and lifts one past Crawford giving them a 2-0 lead.  On the ensuing faceoff Hossa takes a dumb hooking penalty putting the Avs right back on the power play.  Ben Smith breaks in short handed but again the Russian net minder says no.  The Hawks end the period on the power play when Maxime Talbot slashes Leddy’s stick to pieces.  Hawks lead the shot advantage 13-9.

Not long after the penalty expired to open the period, the Hawks get another attempt when Matt Duchene slashes Smith.  Varlamov stands tall and makes some great saves.  Duchene jumps out of the box and finds himself on a breakaway.  Crawford keeps him outside and he rings it off the post.  Their puck possession becomes more of a game of keep away with Varlamov having and answer for every shot the Hawks throw at him.  Hossa finds Jonathan Toews wide open at the side of the net.  Toews fans on the puck during the attempt.  Varlamov flashes his leather when Patrick Kane rips one intended for the top shelf.  The Hawks begin to put the brave in front of the net to screen Varlamov.  Even the D-men  get involved.  Brandon Saad grabs a puck off the boards and flies into the slot and snipes a shot which ricochets off a few sticks but eventually hits Johnny Oduya off the chest and finally past Varlamov 2-1.  This ignites the home team as they keep their domination alive.  Pucks are being fired from all over the offensive zone from everyone.  With 25.3 seconds left in the period the Hawks get another late power play when Patrick Sharp breaks through the neutral zone and is tripped up by Jamie McGinn.  The puck does go in at the 17 second mark but it was immediately waived off for an Andrew Shaw high stick.  Hawks continue to lead in shots 29-15.

Hawks continue to put shots on Varlamov to open the third and while on the power play.  Kane heads to the box for hooking allowing the Avalanche to add to their lead.  Duchene again rings one off the post.  With 12:33 remaining in the game, Hossa slips into the slot and sends a shot on net.  Saad is there to try and jam home the rebound but it heads straight up in the air.  Andrew Shaw corrals the puck as it hits the ground, spins and scores tying the game at 2.  The chances continue to pile up for the Hawks with Rozsival being the only Hawks D man who didn’t have a shot on net after walking in and hitting the post.  Crawford and Keith both help the Hawks stayed tied with some acrobatic saves.  The Avs begin to come at the Hawks.  The fans at the UC are lucky as this game heads to overtime.

Brent Seabrook makes a huge defensive play stopping Nathan Mackinnon using a sliding poke check.  Hossa and Sharp both get chances to end this game.   Kane even tries his spin-o-rama.  With just 1:26 left in the extra period, Toews loses the puck to Benoit who is free and clear on a breakaway.  Toews hooks him up and gets called for the penalty.  36 seconds into the 4-on-3 power play, the Avs make the captain pay.  Barrie hammers a point shot past Crawford getting his second of the night and giving the Avalanche the 3-2 OT victory.

Lines:

Sharp Toews Hossa                                         Keith Seabrook

Saad Shaw Kane                                              Oduya Hjalmarsson

Bickell Handzus Versteeg                              Leddy Rozsival

Bollig Kruger Smith

Quick Hits:

-Hawks outshot the Avalanche 48-26.

-Hawks go 0/5 on the power play with the Avs going 2/4.

-Keith led all Hawks in TOI with 28:10, D partner Seabrook was next with 24:57

-Toews went 21/29 in the faceoff dot Shaw 6/12, Handzus 2/6 and Kruger 7/13

-Sharp led all Hawks with 9 shots on goal; Hjalmarsson had 6 with Kane adding 4.

-Next up the Hawks host the Ducks on Friday night at the UC.

Brad Vandenberk

@CMM_Brad

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5 Responses to Toews’ OT penalty costly; Avalanche prevail 3-2, hand Hawks a 5th January loss

  1. Kris Versteeg you’re wrong. The Hawks once again looked bad. I guess now that the players aren’t auditioning for the Olympics the drive has gone out of this team. BTW Kris you especially had a terrible game. And once again just like in the playoffs a team has figured out that if you play Towes hard to the body he goes MIA. The “captain” needs to watch the tape to see his game losing penalty after he completely muffed the puck. He clearly tripped Benoit who would have been on a breakaway

    • Bill,
      I agree with your statement. It does seem to be that since the Olympic rosters were announced that the 10 Hawks invited seemed to have dropped off in play. I believe now that we are into playing a full season, that fatigue can play a factor. Plus it doesn’t help when you have a $4.1 Million dollar winger in Bickell that can seem to find his groove. This causes Q to change the lineups and Shaw seems to have adapted quite nicely. There is some positives here with the Hawks at least keeping pace and gaining 1 point in all these looses. They will regain their form and play like the Champs they know they are, the game against the Ducks on Friday should force them to rise to the occasion and break this record breaking streak. Thanks for reading !!!

  2. So far for 2014 this is reminding me somewhat of the Hawks, 2010-11. After a smoke and mirrors 1st half, deficiencies started to catch up with them in that season. I’m not drawing direct comparisons; this team is clearly better than that one was. But a loaded schedule of a soft Eastern Conference in the 2013 portion of this campaign has the numbers slightly askew. The record against the West speaks volumes. They are a middle of the conference pack team right now. They can and should work some things out with this lineup. The Ducks are a good place to start. The Hawks are winless against the Blues. Another loss against the top team in the league and we can officially stop singing praises.

    • Palmerock,
      Great comment. The good thing is there will be a little bit of a break during the Olympics and even though 10 Hawks will be participating, it gives the rest a chance to rejuvenate and come back ready to close out the season. This team is very good and our depth is being tested which most Hawks fans knew would happen this year after the departure of Bolland and Frolik. The West is a stronger conference and we are still at a good pace. We still need a 2nd line center, which Shaw is looking to be filling out nicely, but he is required more for his D minded play versus O. Your right, this Ducks game on Friday will definitely separate the Men from the Boys! Thanks for reading

    • 48 shots against the Avs- I wouldn’t call that mailing I a performance. All the Blues games were very close- two OT losses, one a shoot out. We are far from a middle of the pack Western Conference team, we are one of the teams to beat. Let’s face it, there is a lot of parity in the league. Far to often the outcome is which way the puck bounces when it hits the congestion in front of the net.

      My biggest concern is the amount of Prime scoring chances we keep giving up. This may sound strange, but I thought Versteeg played all vs.the Avs. He appeared to be working his butt off along the boards.

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