By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks held off a late charge from the Boston Bruins Thursday night to extend their current win streak to eight games. The Hawks rode a big performance in net by Scott Darling along with a nice evening by Ben Smith to a 3-2 road victory.
First Period-Smith was the catalyst for the opening tally, maneuvering the puck behind the net and hitting a wide open Klas Dahlbeck just above the left dot. Dahlbeck’s blast beat Tuuka Rask at the 9:10 mark to put Chicago up 1-0. Rask was fooled as Dahlbeck’s shot was slightly re-directed when his own forward, Seth Griffith, stuck his stick in the open lane and tipped the shot. The goal was Dahlbeck’s first in the NHL.
Smith’s tenacity on the fore check, along with fourth-line teammates Daniel Carcillo and Marcus Kruger, doubled the Blackhawks lead late in the period. Carcillo took a ringaround pass from the stick of Kruger in the left corner and threw the puck on net. Smith was parked in front of the crease and knocked in a bouncing puck to make the score 2-0 Blackhawks with 1:17 remaining. That’s the way things stood at the first intermission.
Second Period-The Blackhawks got some extended power play time near the midway point of the middle frame. Chicago was unable to convert on a couple of 5-on-3 opportunities. The first was created when the Bruins were called for too many men at 7:57 followed by a returning Zdeno Chara tossing the puck over the glass a minute later.
The bench penalty had just expired when Dennis Seidenberg shoved Jonathan Toews head-first into the end boards 10:04 into the second period. Toews remained in the game for the resulting two-man advantage until he was called for hooking Chris Kelly 49 seconds later to end the power play threat.
Back at even strength, the Hawks built a three-goal lead thanks to the Patrick Kane’s patience with the puck and Rask’s inability to get to his feet. Kelly attempted to clear the puck behind the net but Kaner got in the way and sent it to the front of the net for Kris Versteeg. The shot came off Rask, who hit the deck but couldn’t cover.
Kane collected the rebound at the goal line, got the puck settled and flipped it over Rask and Kelly, who had gone into the net to try and prevent a goal. The Hawks now owned a 3-0 advantage 13:19 into the period.
Boston got back into the contest in the final minutes of the second after winning a battle for the puck in the left corner of the Chicago zone. Brad Marchand came out the scrum with the biscuit and skated toward the back of the Hawks net. Marchand sent a pass off the side of the net to Reilly Smith, who knocked one in past Darling at 18:37 to cut the lead to 3-1. Suddenly the Bruins had something to holler about as the teams entered the locker room.
Third Period-The Hawks could muster only two shots in the last 20 minutes as Boston took aim at pulling out the contest. The Bruins made things a lot tighter in the 13th minute.
Milan Lucic brought the puck across the blue line with Dahlbeck and Rozsival muscling him away from the direct route to the net. Andrew Shaw started to follow his defensemen to Lucic but never saw Torey Krug streaking toward the net. Lucic centered and Krug sent the shot past Darling’s glove. At the 12:17 mark, the Hawks lead was now 3-2.
Shaw found Kelly after the play for a dropping of the gloves after some grabbing and shoving between the two teams. Shaw and Kelly were sent off for five, with Dahlbeck and Krug heading to the box as well for matching roughing penalties.
From the final eight minutes, Darling and the Hawks hung on for dear life as Boston attempted to tie the score. Rask was pulled late but a couple of icings on the part of the Bruins kept the action safely out of the Chicago zone for the final seconds.
Three Stars-Lucic (third), Patrice Bergeron (second), Darling (first)
-It goes without saying that after clanging his head off the boards, Toews was allowed to continue to skate before the hooking call took him out of action. Of course, at that point Tazer was taken to the locker room and did not return. It’s fine, as Toews has no history of concussions…wait…he does? Way to protect a long-term investment.
-Boston outshot the Hawks 34-21, with Darling making 32 stops. The Bruins also bested Chicago at the dot 39-27.
-This win won’t come with a lot of style points, but they picked up two more points in the standings in a tough building to do so.
-It’s now on to New York for Saturday’s game with the Islanders. The puck drops at 6:00 p.m.