Friday, October 14, 2011

Hawks overcome bad start, edge Winnipeg 4-3

Joel Quenneville didn't like what he was seeing early - the hawks had no legs & were watching as Winnipeg skated circles around them, with Jim Slater scoring twice on deflections of point shots from in front of the net to put the Jets up 2-0 less than 8 minutes into the game.

That is when coach Q called timeout and in no uncertain terms let his team have it. His message seemed to get through - about a minute later, the hawks managed to get a power play opportunity when Patrick Kane picked up the puck in his own zone in the circle to the left of Emery and blew by a couple of Jets before Tobias Entstrom tripped him up to prevent him from going in all alone. On the ensuing man advantage Kane was the catalyst again, taking a pass from Toews on the right half boards & firing a shot on net which Pavelec stopped, but left a rebound which Andrew Brunette quickly pounced on, lifting it over a sprawled goaltender & the Hawks were back in the game.

Late in the first, it was Kane yet again, this time one-timing a pass from Marion Hossa, who had made a strong move picking up a loose puck at center & beating Tobias Enstrom just inside the blue-line, and then getting a fortuitous bounce off the linesman's skate, giving the hawks a two on one in the Jets zone. Hossa then found Kane with a nice cross-ice pass & Kane blew it past Pavelec, who had no chance, and the game was tied.

The Hawks started the game more as spectators than initiators & paid for it. The Jets buzzed around the hawk zone early, carrying the play. Just under five minutes in, Montador took a hit in the corner to move the puck up the right boards to Toews, however the hawk captain failed to clear the zone, with Johnny Oduya intercepting the clear attempt & sidestepping Patrick Sharp to move into the slot, firing a shot that was tipped by Jim Slater in front, who had gained position on Montador. Ray Emery, seeing his first start of the season had no chance, 1-0 Winnipeg.

A couple of minutes later, the Jets aggressiveness paid more dividends, as on a dump-in to the corner, Slater checked Keith off the puck, gaining possession and keeping it in the zone for the Jets. More strong forechecking by Slater & Tanner Glass on Nick Leddy eventually won them the puck behind the hawk net and Glass skated with it to the opposite corner before finding Ron Hainsey at the right point. As the puck was headed to the point, Slater moved to the front of the net unchecked and was able to again deflect the shot from the point past Emery who had no chance, 2-0 Jets. With the Jets outshooting the hawks 5-0 at that point, and up 2-0, cue the timeout by Q, that turned the momentum around and by the end of the first, the hawks had outshot Winnipeg 11-9.

The hawks carried the momentum into the second period, with the Kane, Hossa & Carcillo line again involved. Just 33 seconds in, Nick Leddy pinched in from the right point to keep the puck deep in the zone, with Kane dropping back to cover for Leddy at the right point. Kane then stopped a Jets clear attempt and fed Hossa in the right corner. Hossa then moved back to the right half boards, with Leddy retreating to the point while Kane moved toward the right corner. Hossa fed Leddy, and then set himself up to take the return pass and one-timed it from 40 feet with Carcillo in front and the hawks had their first lead of the game 3-2.

About a minute later, Steve Montador nailed Evander Kane with a big open ice hit at center - the only problem was E. Kane was nowhere near the puck and Montador was sent off for interference. On the ensuing face-off, Bolland won the draw, but was high-sticked on the ensuing scrum, possibly by teammate Duncan Keith. Ray Emery made a great save on Andrew Ladd at the end of the shift, sprawling to get his stick down to stop the puck as he had gone down & was off to the side of net after making the original save on Ladd, who then tried to stuff in the rebound. Later in the Jets powerplay, Kyle Wellwood tried a wraparound that Emery stopped, however, he was unable to control the puck and both Wellwood and Evander Kane took pokes at it. The referee blew the play dead when it appeared that Emery had it, and waved off a would-be goal after E. Kane raised his arms, signaling a goal, as the puck appeared to have crossed the line behind Emery. Video review supported the call on the ice - the whistle had been blown before the puck entered the net - no goal & still 3-2 Chicago.

Shortly after the hawks killed the penalty, they struck again, this time started by a nice rush from Frolik, who started deep in his own zone, blew past Alex Burmistrov in the Jets zone, creating a 2 on 1, then patiently outwaiting Burmistrov to beautifully set up Bickell alone in front, who was stoned by Pavelec. Bogosian's attempted clear hit the back of the net, where Bickell beat Oduya to the puck and fed Bolland who was streaking in on the left side, and one timed a shot that Pavelec got a piece of, but it trickled in behind him & into the net, 4-2 Chicago.

Shortly afterwards, Wellwood took a minor penalty in the hawk zone for tripping Duncan Keith and the hawks were headed back to the powerplay with a chance to really take control, however they failed to seriously threaten. Late in the powerplay, Marion Hossa took a pass from Seabrook at the right half boards, then immediately tried to return the puck back to Seabrook, however Jim Slater had moved in and intercepted it & quickly moved it up to center to Wellwood coming out of the box. Wellwood was in alone, but stumbled as he moved over the hawk blueline, thus allowing Seabrook to recover and check him without giving up a good scoring chance or taking a penalty on the play.

The hawks caught a break a few minutes later when Daniel Carcillo, playing in his first game as a hawk after serving a two game suspension received with Philadelphia in the playoffs, appeared to take a high hit, as his head flung backwards, causing the referees to call MacLean for an elbow. Replays showed that MacLean hit Carcillo in the chest - nowhere near his head. The hawks didn't threaten on the powerplay and Winnipeg seemed to gain some momentum from the kill as only seconds after the penalty expired, Wellwood tapped in a rebound from between his legs that Emery actually helped knock into his own net as he was scrambling to try to get back into position after a scramble around the hawk net off a Hainsey rush.

The hawks Rusty Olesz then took a high-sticking penalty in the offensive zone less than half a minute later and the momentum seemed to be changing. The hawks managed to kill off the penalty without any damage and finished off the period with neither team seriously threatening.

In the third, the hawks had several good chances, but Pavelec was sharp, appearing to gain confidence with each save. The jets created some chances as well, with Emery equal to the task, with his best save on Ladd who was set up with a clear shot in the slot. The Jets pulled their goaltender with about a minute left, but weren't able to capitalize as the hawks held on for their 2nd home win in as many tries.

Overall, Patrick Kane was key tonight - he single-handedly brought the hawks back into the game with a dazzling rush that drew a penalty and then drew the primary assist on the hawks first goal and scored the tying goal on a one-timer nicely set up by Hossa. He won 10 of 14 faceoffs and a +2 rating, coming back hard on the defensive side to support his defensemen.

His linemates also had strong games, with Hossa looking motivated to make an impact, which he did, scoring a goal and setting up Kane for another. Carcillo made a nice play to spring Hossa at center on the 2nd goal, and was also effective in front on Hossa's one timer, and while his "sell-job" on dramatically moving his head back suddenly worked to draw an elbow penalty, you can bet that the officials won't be impressed on review of the play. It leaves the door wide open for Carcillo to not draw a penalty call on a play where he may legitimately be fouled...and thus hurt his team. The hawks don't need to resort to crap like that - the fact they seem to tolerate it will surely come back to haunt them this season.

Dave Bolland again made his presence felt with a goal which turned out to be the winner.

The game also marked the return of Andrew Ladd & Dustin Byfuglien to Chicago - both were noticeable, however, neither picked up a point, tho Byfuglien went +2. (An interesting tidbit is that Andrew Ladd is renting Jonathan Toews' Winnipeg condo while he finds a place).

Next up for the hawks, hosting the defending Stanley Cup Champs Boston, who are off to a bit of a rough start, at 1-3 so far. Corey Crawford will likely return to the net, assuming he is 100%. This should be a good test for the hawks, who are looking to take back the Cup from its current holder.

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