Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks played four games and ended up 2-1-1 in those games earning five out of eight possible points (a 0.625 winning percentage). Not a bad week. This week saw a couple of firsts. On the good side, the Hawks won their first shootout of the season against Anaheim on Tuesday. On the bad side, the Hawks lost their first game in regulation since losing the opener on October 7.
For the season, the Blackhawks are 6-2-2. They currently sit atop the NHL’s central division with 14 points, three points ahead of Nashville (whom they play tonight) and four points ahead of both St. Louis and Detroit (who has lost four games in a row after going 5-0 to start the season). Their 14 points puts them in a three-way tie for third in the conference behind Edmonton and Dallas. So the Hawks are in a good position so far in this young season. Let’s briefly review last week’s games.
Saturday, October 22, 2011 — Avalanche 5, Blackhawks 4 (SO): This game was a bit of a downer in that the Hawks should have won this game in regulation. The Blackhawks spotted the Avalanche a 1-0 lead in the first period as Paul Stastny tipped in a shot with under 4:00 to play in the period. The Hawks quickly tied the game in the second when Michael Frolik scored his first goal of the season unassisted. The Avs scored two unanswered goals — by David Jones and Gabriel Landeskog — to take a 3-1 lead. With under a minute to go in the second, Hawks captain, Jonathan Toews brought Chicago within a goal with his 4th tally of the season on a Hawks’ power play. The Hawks then opened the final period with two unanswered goals of their own to take a 4-3 lead. Scoring the goals were Jamal Mayers (2) and Marian Hossa (4). It looked like the Blackhawks would win both games of this back-to-back series with Colorado when Landeskog scored his second goal of the night with less than two minutes to go in regulation tying the game and sending it into overtime. Both teams remained scoreless in the overtime period, so onto the shootout. The Avs won the shootout on their last attempt when Joakim Lindstrom put the puck past Corey Crawford. A disappointing loss to say the least. The Blackhawks were haunted last season with lost points in regulation and overtime. It’s nice to see the Hawks pick up points in these shootout losses, but two points is definitely better than one. Crawford was not particularly sharp in net this game only stopping 20 of 24 shots for an 83% save percentage. Duncan Keith was the points leader for Chicago chipping in two assists on the night.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 — Blackhawks 3, Ducks 2 (SO): Second straight overtime shootout, this time a different result. The Hawks bounced back from their loss to Colorado by beating the Anaheim Duck 3-2 in a shootout. After skating to a scorless tie in the first period, Anaheim drew first blood on a PPG by Ryan Getzlaf early in the second. Chicago tied the score midway through the period on Marian Hossa’s 5th goal of the season; this was Hossa’s 5th straight game scoring a goal. The Ducks retook the lead when elder skatesman, Teemu Selanne scored his 3rd of the year at the 16:22 mark of the period. The Ducks maintained that slim one-goal lead until Patrick Sharp fired one past Jonas Hiller with six minutes to go in the game. That goal was Sharp’s third of the year. Again, after another scorless overtime period, both teams commenced to the shootout. Coach Joel Quenneville opted to go last this time around to shake things up. After Corey Crawford made a save on Corey Perry’s attempt, Jonathan Toews gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the shootout. Selanne quickly got that goal back on the Ducks’ second shootout attempt. Dave Bolland was rejected on his attempt as was Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf. It was down to Chicago’s last attempt and Patrick Kane netted the winning goal on a beautiful double move. Kane was the #1 star of the game earning assists on both Chicago goals as well as getting the game winner in the shootout. Crawford was much more solid in net stopping 29 shots on 31 attempts (93.5% save percentage).
Friday, October 28, 2011 — Hurricanes 3, Blackhawks 0: Every once in a while good teams get shut out; the Blackhawks are no exception. Chicago came into Carolina riding a seven-game points streak. Maybe they were a bit too cocky, or maybe they were a bit tired. Either way, the Hawks were out played by the Hurricanes. Corey Crawford was solid in net, stopping 30 of 33 shots (91% save percentage), but Cam Ward was phenomenal. He stopped all 30 shots he faced including a breakaway by Toews. Carolina goals were scored by Tim Brent (2), Brandon Sutter (3), and Jiri Tlusty (2). Coach “Q” was a bit critical of his team after the game saying, “We got dominated in all areas of the game. We weren’t very good tonight…They were a more determined team, and it was clear from the outset… I didn’t like how we played.”
Saturday, October 29, 2011 — Blackhawks 5, Blue Jackets 2: The Blackhawks got back on track with a solid 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets at the United Center. Some of the unsung Hawks were the stars of the game. 4th liner, Marcus Kruger, scored his first goal of the season early in the first period to put the Hawks up 1-0. Columbus’ Vinny Propal tied the game at 1 with his 5th goal of the season at the 5:58 mark of the period. The Hawks closed out the scoring in the first period when Dave Bolland scored his 5th goal of the season on a SHG late in the period. The Blue Jackets’ Derek MacKenzie tied the score at two when he scored the lone goal of the second period. Going into the third period tied at two, the Hawks poured it on scoring three unanswered goals in the period to completely dominate Columbus and close out the victory. Four and half minutes into the third, Victor Stalberg scored his first of two goals to break the tie. Then about two minutes later, Stalberg scored his second goal to extend the lead to 4-2. Michael Frolik added an empty net goal to close the scoring out. Backup G, Ray Emery, gave Corey Crawford a breather and won his second game of the season, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Frolik (1G, 1A), Stalberg (2G) and D Nick Leddy (2A) were the leading scorers for Chicago.
Next week we’ll review four more games as the Hawks will host the Nashville Predators tonight, then travel to Florida to play the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hawks wrap up the week hosting the defending Western Conference champ, Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Until then…GO HAWKS!!!