Feb 102015
 

By Chris Block

Returning to their home ice for the first time since a 6-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes on January 20th, the Blackhawks faced off with the same desert sons on Monday night in front of 21,337 fans, the 302nd consecutive sellout crowd at United Center.

Marian Hossa repeated his efforts from Sunday’s win in St. Louis, again posting 2 goals in this, the Blackhawks first home game in 20 days, on Marian Hossa bobblehead night nonetheless.

Hossa was in top form Monday. The relentless back-checking, puck-hounding, puck-sniping beast that he has earned him a reputation as one of the game’s premier all-around performers put in a near perfect effort on his end.

But his two goals were not enough on Monday, as a late second period Patrick Kane unsportsmanlike penalty allowed Arizona to check back into a game they were largely being neutralized within up to that point. And a miraculous Mike Smith goal line stand with 16.3 seconds left in overtime kept the Blackhawks from returning to Chicago in winning fashion.

Lucas Lessio and Antoine Vermette beat Antti Raanta with different slick maneuverings in the shootout, while Patrick Kane was the lone Blackhawk to convert on Smith.

Smith stopped 36 of 38 shots off Blackhawks’ sticks in route to the 3-2 shootout victory.

Coming in, Antti Raanta had been undefeated at home this season, 7-0-0 with 2 shutouts, a 1.29 GAA and 95.9% save percentage as opposed to being 0-4-0 on the road with a 2.79 GAA and 88.8% save.

32 seconds into the game, Hossa found himself 1 on 1 with Arizona’s goalie after Coyotes’ right defenseman Zbynek Michalek went for a skate over to the left side boards. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Michalek’s partner, didn’t pickup what was happening until it was too late but Hossa was unable to find the net on his first look.

Raanta made his best stop of the first period when he stuffed a Tobias Rieder one-timer with 5:44 to go in the opening frame. Smith countered Raanta fifty seconds later when he got his left pad down in time to prevent Duncan Keith’s attempt through a traffic from finding twine.

Brandon Saad nearly had a great chance to notch the game’s first goal on opening shift of the second period, but he was pulled down by Shane Doan just as Jonathan Toews’ centering pass got into Saad’s wheelhouse. Doan yanked Saad down right in front of rookie referee T.J. Luxmore, however there was no penalty called on the play.

Hossa struck for his first of the night at 12:44 of the second after Brandon Saad beat Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a dump in along the right side once inside the Coyotes’ zone. The puck trickled down to the end wall with Saad still in pursuit. Michalek got to it first but tried a weak backhanded clearing attempt back up the strong side boards. Jonathan Toews easily picked off Michalek’s chip and quickly fired a centering pass into the low slot where Hossa was lurking. Hossa had to be quick though as Smith anticipated it and nearly got back to the far post but not quickly enough as Hossa netted his 13th of the season to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

The Blackhawks power play was atrocious on this night as it failed to generate any serious threat over its four chances and 8 full minutes with a man-advantage. In the game the Hawks were 0-4 on the power play while Arizona went 1-2.

Arizona got their first opportunity at a power play with 3:10 to go in the second after Patrick Kane got whistled for an unsportsmanlike minor penalty for barking at the officials after he was slashed across the hands by Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan seconds earlier.

In a twist of irony, Doan scored the goal on the ensuing power play to tie the game 1-1 when he tipped a Keith Yandle shot after the Hawks lost a defensive zone face off. The goal was Doan’s 12th and the game remained tied heading into the third period.

Then the Hawks shot themselves in the foot again as Johnny Oduya was whistled for cross-checking Lauri Korpikoski 22 seconds after Doan’s tip-in. The Hawks’ penalty kill prevented Arizona from getting a shot on goal until just as Oduya’s penalty was expiring and the game remained tied going into the second intermission.

In the third Antoine Vermette tipped an Ekman-Larsson left point shot at 3:59 to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead. In the moments leading up to the goal, twice did the Hawks fail to connect on attempts to clear their zone. First it was Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger – then Hjalmarsson and Ben Smith, who had his stick lifted by Shane Doan along the wall near the Hawks’ bench. With Doan’s help, the puck slid right to Ekman-Larsson who fired the puck through traffic, allowing Vermette to get his stick on it for a slight tip and his 12th goal of the season.

Ekman-Larsson took an ill-advised penalty just 38 seconds later to hand the Hawks a third power play and chance to tie the game when he slashed Brandon Saad away from the puck. But, again, the Hawks power play units failed to connect.

An extended shift for the Shawk-Teravainen-Bickell line midway through the period nearly ended in disaster. Teravainen in particular had two instances where he was near the bench but either didn’t signal for a change or wasn’t called off. That was a mistake. After being out for over a minute, the trio went for a change but left Michal Rozsival back with little support. Rozsival went back to Raanta’s net to retrieve the puck but then had a blowout. Arizona was unable to capitalize, however.

The Hossa line worked their magic again to tie the game with 7:42 to go in regulation. Jonathan Toews hit Hossa with a short pass atop the circles. Hossa’s shot redirected in off Zbynek Michalek, who went down to a knee to block the shot right in front of Mike Smith. Hossa’s shot was relatively harmless before it hit Michalek as it had about two feet of air underneath it and it was coming in right on Smith. As it was, the puck hit Michalek and dove on past Smith for Hossa’s 2nd of the game and 14th on the campaign. Toews got the lone assist, his 2nd of the game and 29th of the year.

A crazy sequence in the final minute of overtime led to a lengthy goal review after the overtime clock had expired.

With 30 seconds left, Andrew Shaw nabbed a puck out of mid air just inside the Hawks’ end, but then tried to pass it between two sets of legs. His attempted failed and laid out for Keith Yandle in the high slot. Yandle had a one-on-one with Raanta and tried to go five hole but Raanta was able to close it down.

Play transitioned to the Coyotes’ end. Saad controlled the puck once inside the zone and passed down into the lower left circle to Shaw, who put the puck on net. The puck hit Smith but then jumped over the Coyotes’ goalie and landed on the goal line where it bounced along the line. Smith was able to get his glove over there to prevent the puck from completely crossing the line, however. And after further review, it appeared T.J. Luxmore’s immediate call of No-Goal on the ice was the correct one.

Arizona shot first in the shootout and Lucas Lessio converted by coming down with speed on Raanta, beating him with a deke to the forehand and by the outstretched right goalie pad.

Jonathan Toews was next but his backhand try hit the side of the net.

Ekman-Larsson took a methodical approach and tried to go between the pads but he missed the mark.

Next was Patrick Kane, who got Smith to go down and roofed his backhander over the Arizona goalie’s left glove hand.

Antoine Vermette did beat Raanta five-hole next, giving the Coyotes the potential game-winner.

Joel Quenneville went with Patrick Sharp third, who was thwarted by Smith’s left leg pad.

The Hawks are now 33-18-3 on the season. The lost point hurts in this case because the Coyotes are not a good team at all, are in contention for a top 3 draft pick and were missing one of their better players in this game, Martin Hanzal.

Next up are the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night as the Hawks continue this 8-game homestand. New Jersey then comes in on Friday night, followed up by another 11:30 a.m. puck drop on Sunday when the Penguins visit the United Center.

Game notes:

-Blackhawks are now 6-2 in the shootout this season. Overall as a franchise since the shootout’s inception, the Hawks are 57-57.

-The Patrick Kane for the Hart Trophy is beginning to gain steam nationally, and it should. The league really needs a most outstanding player to be awarded separate from the MVP, but either one Kane would be a frontrunner for the way he’s performed this season. He’s as physical as I’ve ever seen him too.

-On home ice, Hawks are now 16-7-2. When noting Raanta’s prior dominance at the United Center, its also worth noting that Corey Crawford has performed better on the road this season than at home.

Crawford

At home: 8-6-1 record, 2.56 GAA, .910 save %
On road: 13-6-1, 1 shoutout, 2.03 GAA, .929 save %

-Brad Richards figures to hit the 900 career point milestone on this homestand. He’s 3 shy of that mark right now.

-Hawks are now 8-6-1 vs Pacific Division opponents.

-Kris Versteeg will be activated from IR before Wednesday’s game. Thus, there’s likely to be a forward heading to Rockford, either Joakim Nordstrom or Teuvo Teravainen.

I am solidly in the camp that Teuvo should stay and center the third line. Teravainen with Bickell and Versteeg would be interesting to see develop. Bickell is an odd fit to go with Teuvo, but he almost has to be there because, 1. Bickell isn’t playing his way into the top six these days. 2. There’s always going to be the sense that Teuvo has to skate with at least one bigger, physical forward. Versteeg would give Teuvo a dance partner, but he’d have to go back to center and Joel has moved him off center for the time being. Shaw has been terrible for the most part at center this year, and its been long overdue that he slides back to wing permanently. Though, the fact that hasn’t happened speaks more to the lack of depth down the middle than anything else. Teuvo covers a lot of ice and has premier instincts when it comes to reading the play as it develops and covering for teammates, which is at a premium whenever Versteeg or Shaw are on the ice.

All this being said, it wouldn’t be a crime if the Hawks sent Teravainen back to Rockford for a few weeks. If so, I’d like to see him truly be assertive and dominate that league. He’s more capable than he’s shown so far in a Hawks’ uniform. Maybe he can gain some extra mojo or whatever in going back there and finding his range offensively. He’s always to an extent going to be overmatched physically . He’s shown that he’s able to slide the shoulder and use his hips to turn bigger players and win pucks with his stick and feet. Of course when he takes on a bigger player chest to chest, or shoulder to shoulder, he’s going to lose those encounters. He shouldn’t even try unless he has leverage. He’ll learn through those experiences and not make as many of those mistakes down the line.

The Hawks do want Teravainen to succeed. So, this is different than in the case of other prospects like Pirri and Morin who had many doubters up and down the organization. That’s not an issue with Teravainen. Right now there is the question of whether or not he can handle the bigger forwards in the West over the rigors of the stretch run and a long playoff run. As noted above, that’s not his game anyway, so the only way he’ll learn to handle it is by being in the games and learning how to handle it now. If he goes back to Rockford, I’d suspect it would be for another speed course in faceoffs, board work and lecturing him to shoot more whenever possible. But I do believe he’ll be back before the playoffs should it go down that way.

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Joel Quenneville’s lines, pairings, scratches & specials 2/9/15 vs Glendale

Forwards [LW-C-RW]

20-Brandon Saad / 19-Jonathan Toews / 81-Marian Hossa

10-Patrick Sharp / 91-Brad Richards / 88-Patrick Kane

29-Bryan Bickell / 65-Andrew Shaw / 86-Teuvo Teravainen

13-Dan Carcillo / 16-Marcus Kruger / 28-Ben Smith

Defense

4-Niklas Hjalmarsson / 7-Brent Seabrook

2-Duncan Keith / 5-David Rundblad

27-Johnny Oduya / 32-Michal Rozsival

Goal

31-Antti Raanta

50-Corey Crawford (backup)

Scratches: D-34-Tim Erixon… LW-42-Joakim Nordstrom

Injuries: LW-23-Kris Versteeg (hand, possible return 2/11)… D-57-Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee, March)….

Special Teams

Power play I: Shaw-Toews-Kane w/Keith & Sharp
Power play II: Bickell-Saad-Hossa w/ Richards & Seabrook

PK forwards: Smith-Kruger, Hossa-Toews
PK defense: Keith-Hjalmarsson, Rozsival-Seabrook

Lineup notes:

-Kane double-shifted periodically in Carcillo’s spot on the Kruger line. Kane skated a whopping 23:24, more than two full minutes more than Toews and Hossa, and 3rd most on the team behind Keith (28:25) and Seabrook (25:06).

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Arizona Coyotes’ lineup Monday night in Chicago

Forwards

8-Tobias Reider / 50-Antoine Vermette / 19-Shane Doan

10-Martin Erat / 49-Alexandre Bolduc / 9-Sam Gagner

28-Lauri Korpikoski / 24-Kyle Chipchura / 18-David Moss

38-Lucas Lessio / 39-Brendan Shinnimin / 22-Brandon McMillan

Defense

23-Oliver Ekman-Larsson / 4-Zbynek Michalek

3-Keith Yandle / 26-Michael Stone

45-Andrew Campbell / 5-Connor Murphy

Goal

41-Mike Smith

35-Louis Domingue (backup)

Scratches: C-11-Martin Hanzal… D-20-Chris Summers… RW-44-B.J. Crombeen…

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ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com
PuckChatter@gmail.com
Twitter.com/ChrisBlock

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