Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hawks rebound at home, beat Stars, 5-2

The Blackhawks showed more drive & determination tonight, especially around the Dallas net and it paid early dividends on the powerplay, with Andrew Brunette at the top of the crease knocking in the rebound from Patrick Sharp's shot from the left circle to put the hawks up 1-0 midway through the first.

Perhaps the extra juice was due to the insertion of Dave Bolland, John Scott & Marcus Kruger into the lineup, (and/or the replacement of Lehtonen with Raycroft in the Dallas net) but whatever the case, the Hawks did what they needed to do to take control of things early.

On the goal, Seabrook did a nice job of keeping the puck in the zone at the blueline just out of the reach of Jamie Benn, moving the puck back to Kane on the right boards, and catching both Benn & Eriksson, who was streaking to center in anticipation of Benn beating Seabrook, out of position. Kane then found Sharp with a cross-ice pass. Sharp's first shot/pass attempt was actually blocked by Robidas, but the puck came right back to Sharp who got the second shot through, with Brunette & Toews outnumbering Fistric, the lone Star defenseman back, ready to pounce on the rebound with Raycroft down.

The Hawks gained confidence from the early pp goal, outplaying the Stars and outshooting them 10-2 in the first, with both teams taking 3 penalties each, including a pair of offsetting fighting majors after former hawk Jake Dowell challenged new hawk Jamal Mayers for hitting Sheldon Souray. Both players landed a couple before Mayers took Dowell down to the ice, without any major damage done.

Shortly afterwards, Sharp misfired on a pass attempt deep in his own zone, turning over the puck to Radek Dvorak who quickly fed Steve Ott all alone in front of Crawford but could not beat him low five hole.

A few minutes later, Bolland's wrap-around attempt deflected high and hit off the cross-bar before Raycroft smothered the puck. Late in the first, Marcus Kruger was caught holding the stick of Wandell, and after Dallas controlled the puck for about 40 seconds on the delayed penalty Kruger went off, however, the Stars powerplay failed to threaten. As the first ended, Larson took a run at Bolland, who turned the tables & knocked him down, prompting Burish to get involved - a scrum ensued but no damage done.

The Hawks continued carrying the play to start the 2nd, Bolland getting an early chance on a 3 on 2, with Robidas without a stick, but Raycroft was equal to the task. Hossa followed up that shift by taking a stretch pass from Keith to move down the right side for a good shot at Raycroft who made the save and left a big rebound however, no hawk could get to it.

A few minutes later, Steve Ott lined up rookie Brandon Saad at the red line, and knocked him down with a solid hit, which prompted Mayers to skate up to Ott as play went on and have a few words with him. The hawks got a powerplay shortly afterwards, but failed to convert, with Hossa's cross-crease pass not connecting with Bolland at the end of the penalty.

A few minutes later, Bolland moved into the Dallas zone after a pass from Kruger, and let a seemingly harmless shot go toward net that beat Raycroft high glove side - Raycroft may have not picked up the puck originally as Robidas's attempted to stick check the puck away from Bolland just as he was shooting. 2-0 Chicago.

A few minutes later, Toews was called for slashing Ott's stick out of his hands in the offensive zone, however the Dallas powerplay again failed to seriously threaten, though Robidas did flatten Jamal Mayers with a big hit at the hawk blueline as Mayers was attempting to clear the zone. As the penalty ended, the hawks gained control deep in their own zone & Seabrook with a heads up play found a wide open Toews coming out of the box and deep behind the Dallas defense. A perfect lead pass and Toews made no mistake beating Raycroft low five hole and the hawks looked home and cooled up 3-0.

However, just over a minute later, the Stars responded with Fiddler & Burish combining on a give & go passing play that sent Fiddler in on the left side and he beat Crawford high on a sharp angle to put the Stars back into the game with only their 6th shot on goal.

The hawks got a late powerplay, and controlled the play in the Dallas zone for the first minute when Steve Ott high-sticked Sharp at the blueline, to put the Stars down two men. Quenneville called a timeout to give his top pp unit a chance to stay out for the 5 on 3, however the hawks failed to seriously threaten, partially fanning on a couple of point shot attempts and allowing Raycroft to see & catch another shot that did manage to connect, not giving a chance at a rebound.

Early in the third, Brendan Morrow seemed to hurt himself throwing a check on Seabrook in the corner of the hawk zone - he stayed down for a moment and was later seen grasping his arm on the bench in some distress, but did return to the game.

The hawks struck again 5 minutes into the 3rd on a 2 on 1, with Sharp firing a high shot from the right side into the top right corner, to give the hawks another 3 goal lead, 4-1. The play was started by Montador blocking a Goligoski point shot in the hawk zone, Montador then tried to feed Sharp breaking at the blueline with Goligoski right there, however Sharp managed to break free of Goligoski's check (which prompted a delay penalty call), and created the 2 on 1 with Brunette. Sharp used Brunette as a decoy and fired home his first of the season, 4-1 Chicago.

A few minutes later, Sharp took a cross-checking penalty, and the Stars finally struck on the powerplay with Ott deflecting a second shot attempt from Souray past Crawford to put the Stars back within 2 with half the 3rd left to play. The hawks looked like they had the penalty effectively killed, but Mayers was unable to clear the puck late in the kill, being checked off it by Benn, who fed Souray at the point. Kruger bravely fell in front of Souray's first shot, but the puck lay there for Souray and his second shot was tipped by Ott past Crawford for a pp goal. Kruger was obviously in some discomfort afterwards but did not appear to miss a shift.

On the next shift, Sharp took another penalty on Vern Fiddler, appearing to catch him with a partially blindside hit, however, it was called tripping, with Sharp also picking up a misconduct on the play. Fiddler stayed down for a moment and was slow to get up, but would remain in the game.

The Stars however could not seriously threaten on the powerplay and shortly after it expired they were caught with too many men. The hawks created a couple of good chances, with Bolland deflecting a Montador point shot forcing Raycroft to make a good save and later Hossa was sent in alone in the slot by a nice Kruger lead but couldn't beat Raycroft.

After the penalty kill, Dallas pressed in the hawk zone to try to pull within one, and created a couple of chances, however, Crawford was solid in making a couple of big saves. Like Quenneville the night before, Dallas pulled their goalie with over 2 minutes left, however the hawks were able to gain possession in their own zone with Bickell sending it up to Frolik who with Bolland skated in on a 2 on 1 from center. Frolik unselfishly fed Bolland for the empty netter as the hawks clinched it.

With under a minute left, Burish took run at Jamal Mayers, but got the worst of it, losing his helmet in the process. He then went after Kruger with a cross-check at the other blueline, prompting Mayers to go after him, however, Souray intervened & grabbed Mayers, which quickly resulted in a scrum in the dying seconds at the benches, however no damage was done. Burish was given a roughing penalty & misconduct for his trouble.

Overall, the hawks responded well to the previous loss, though it would have been interesting to see how they would have done against Lehtonen rather than Raycroft. Toews, Sharp, Bolland & Brunette hitting the scoresheet was a welcome sight, and Montador & O'Donnell also picked up their first points as hawks in solid efforts from both. Montador looked more steady & relaxed, getting 15 minutes of ice time, which helped Quenneville cut back Keith's workload from the previous night.

It seemed clear that Bolland's return provided a spark, while the rest of the team followed suit in a solid team win. The hawks get to enjoy the victory for a few days, until Winnipeg visits on Thursday with Ladd & Byfuglien's first visit to Chicago since they were traded.

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