Monday, October 31, 2011

Hawks finally score in shoot-out, come back to beat Ducks 3-2

Joel Quenneville switched things up in the shootout, electing as home coach to shoot second, and moving Dave Bolland into the shooting mix and the hawks managed to score their first two shoot-out goals of the year, the one by Patrick Kane the clincher as Chicago edged Anaheim 3-2.

Kane helped the hawks get to the shoot-out, assisting on both hawk goals in regulation, both times erasing a deficit.

1st Period - Fast start

The game opened up quickly with an early chance for Ducks newcomer Pat Maroon, who skated down the left side with Getzlaff on a 2 on 2.  Maroon took Getzlaff's pass and fired a shot that tested Crawford.  The hawks came right back after recovering the rebound and Carcillo made a nice pass to Kane at the Ducks line to send him in on the left side, taking a huge hit in the process.  Kane didn't get all of the shot & Hiller stopped the fluttering puck.

The teams continued trading possession in a fast moving first, and just over five minutes in, Carcillo was involved in the next good chance, keeping the puck in the Anaheim zone on a line change, then finding Toews open in the high slot.  Toews moved down the left boards and was headed behind the net but dumped off a centering pass to Carcillo who had moved to the front of the net and he fired a point blank shot high & wide.
The hawks recovered the rebound and continued to press with an O'Donnell point shot coming close.  Moments later, Sharp jumped off the bench and moved into the zone and took a Toews pass but blasted a shot from the right point that whistled wide & out of the zone.

From the ensuing face-off, the Ducks moved up ice, catching the hawks on a bad line change with Cogliano taking a lead pass at center, then dropping back for Gordon who had an open shot which Crawford stopped & held.   The hawks moved it back to the Ducks zone after the face-off, where Perry cleared it over the glass to give the hawks the game's first powerplay.

The hawks had zone time, but failed to get a shot on goal with the man advantage.  The ducks seemed to gain some momentum from the kill, and had some zone time of their own following, where they eventually drew a penalty on O'Donnell who tripped Ryan as he tried to come out from behind the hawk net in a stuff attempt.

The hawks penalty kill managed to get a good chance when Frolik chased down a loose puck at center with one man back and got off a backhand on Hiller who made the save.  The Ducks came back and threatened when Selanne redirected a Getzlaff wrister from the point where Crawford had to be sharp.  Near the end of the penalty kill, Mayers took a big blindside hit from Sbisa as he cleared the zone.

Late in the first, the hawks had another good chance as Brunette moved behind the ducks net and back out front on the other side, evading his check and got a sweeping wrap-around shot off that Hiller stopped with Beauchemin clearing the rebound before Toews could get to it.  A minute or so later, off a face-off win in the ducks zone, Hossa took a nice dump-off pass from Leddy at the point and moved in before firing a low wrister that tested Hiller.  Moments later, Frolik managed to negate an icing call, and then found Carcillo along the left half boards, who centered it to Bolland driving the net.  Bolland deflected the pass on net, but Hiller again was sharp.  In the dying seconds of the period, Bolland slashed Beachemin's stick out of his hands, and was called for slashing.

Hawks outshot Anaheim 11-5 in a scoreless first.

2nd period -Kane spinorama

Anaheim breaks ice, scores on early pp, Anaheim 1, Hawks 0

The hawks were on the penalty kill to start the second, and looked in control, even creating an offensive chance when Hossa picked up a loose puck in front of his own crease and moved all the way up ice as the ducks changed and tried to stuff one past Hiller who covered the short side.  Toews then won possession in the ducks zone and managed to kill off the first minute of the penalty.  The following shift, with the play again in the ducks zone, O'Donnell decided to pinch at the left point to try to check Selanne off the puck.  He failed and was caught when Selanne turned away from him and then fed Perry at center who, once he had gained the hawk line, found a streaking Getzlaff, being chased by O'Donnell.  Getzlaff took the pass on his tape and from 15 feet fired a high wrist shot that beat Crawford cleanly and the ducks were up 1-0, the hawks having given up only their second powerplay goal of the season.

The ducks got another chance a few minutes later after O'Donnell's clear attempt of a dump-in from behind his net was blocked by Gordon the first time and then tried kicking the puck ahead toward Kane in the left circle.  Kane tried to poke it away from the oncoming Cogliano, however the puck deflected right back in front to an open McMillan, with Hossa skating past him looking to breakout, however, fortunately for the hawks, the puck got caught up in McMillan's skates and he was only able to get off a weak backhand that was stopped by Crawford, who also stopped Cogliano's close in rebound attempt. The puck remained loose for a moment in Gordon's skates before Montador finally cleared the zone for the hawks.

A minute or so later, Brookbank too exception to Stalberg taking a swipe at Hiller's glove as he was covering it up for a stoppage and went after him.  Mayers immediately intervened and took on Brookbank, with both players exchanging a couple of rights before Mayers took him down to the ice, before Brookbank rolled over on top of him.  No damage done, as both received fighting majors.  Less than a minute later, the ducks looked dangerous again, this time on the rush as both Keith and Sharp (who was covering the point for Keith) were caught after failing to keep the puck in front of them, with the ducks breaking out on a 2 on 1.  Kane hustled back to support Leddy and ended up deflecting a pass by Ryan intended for a wide open Selanne that prevented a sure goal.  Leddy took a penalty on the play, holding Koivu as he was dishing off to Ryan.

The hawks did a good job killing the penalty with Crawford making a good save at the end of it on a clear shot by Beauchemin from the left faceoff dot, and then stopped Ryan on a rebound stuff attempt before covering up.

The hawks tied it up on a highlight reel goal set up brilliantly by Patrick Kane.  He took a pass at his own line from Hossa who had skated a loose puck in the hawk zone, with Kane moving down the right wing.  As he crossed the duck line, he cut towards the slot, backing off Lydman, then did a 360 degree turn before making a backhand pass across the ice to a streaking Hossa who had a simple tap in to an open net to tie it at 1.

The game then opened up, as moments later the hawks moved in 4 on 2, with Seabrook jumping up to join the rush, and Bickell found him wide open in the slot with the ducks defenders backing in.  Seabrook took another stride before blasting one from 25 feet out that Hiller kicked out past a driving Brunette & Bickell with the puck ending up with Getzlaff who with Belesky, found themselves 2 on 1 against Leddy, however Seabrook managed to recover enough to allow Leddy to take his man and neutralize the rush.

Frolik later got a chance as he tried to cut in from the right side and managed to get a weak backhand on net before being shoved off-balance by Lydman, and crashed heavily into the end boards.  He was slow to get up, having a few words for the referee, however, was able to skate off, tho no penalty called.

The fourth lines then got into the act, first with Parros picking up a loose puck at center and taking a long wrist shot as he crossed the line which Crawford kicked out, leaving a big rebound which Parros managed to get to, beating both Keith & Leddy to it, and testing Crawford a second time.   Once the hawks recovered, Keith sent a long pass from his own left corner up to Mayers who shoveled it ahead on the left side to a streaking Brunette who shot it wide.

Selanne steal - Anaheim 2, Chicago 1

The ducks broke through again late in the second after some sloppy play by the hawks in their own zone.  After Montador recovered a loose puck in his own right corner, he fed it off to Kane in the right circle, who was being watched by Cogliano.  Montador continued moving up the right side, while Hossa headed up ice, leaving Kane with no outlet support, other than Keith, who was already near the blueline, apparently looking to change.   Kane fed it up towards Keith who was facing Kane and didn't see Selanne, who had just come off the ducks bench.  Selanne was able to strip the puck away from Keith, which ended up right on Cogliano's stick.  Cogliano managed to slide the puck back over to Selanne with Kane just failing to get his stick on it to break it up and Selanne moved in alone on Crawford and with a little deke, lifted a backhand off the post and in behind Crawford to make it 2-1 Anaheim.

Selanne on his next shift had another good chance where he was in on a 2 on 1, but Toews managed to get back to knock the puck off his stick.

In the final minute, Kane fed Toews who was cutting down the right wing in the ducks zone and as he tried to move past Maroon, he was tripped up,  giving the hawks their second powerplay of the game.

The ducks outshot the hawks 13-9 in the second, outscoring them 2-1.

3rd period - Hawks tie it up

The hawks powerplay to start the 3rd, was unable to create any dangerous chances and in fact lost possession trying to enter the zone on a couple of occasions and losing puck battles after gaining the zone a couple of other times.

The hawks best early chance came from the fourth line which had a 3 on 2 rush.  Kruger passed it to Frolik down the right side whose shot was kicked out right to an open Stalberg who had an open net to shoot at but the puck bounced over his stick.  The ducks responded with some offensive zone pressure, helped by the hawks sloppy and soft defensive coverage and inability to take control of the puck.  There was little to no attempt to take the body, just stick checks that when they connected, merely moved the puck away, often from their own teammates.  Finally, it ended up costing them when O'Donnell tried to clear and sent it over the glass for a delay of game penalty.

Kane  again, Anaheim 2, Chicago 2

The hawks managed to kill off the penalty, tho the ducks did have a couple of decent chances that missed the target.  Shortly afterwards, Quenneville reunited Kane, Toews and Sharp after an icing and a face-off win in the ducks zone, Kane's shot from the point was deflected high and wide, however, the ducks couldn't clear thanks to a pinch by Leddy, with Kane picking up the loose puck.  He turned and moved forward while sliding the puck across to a waiting Sharp, who blasted a one-timer high into the top corner past Hiller and the game was tied.

On the next shift, Maroon nailed Seabrook up against the glass in the hawk corner, knocking a pane out, causing a slight delay.  However, the hawks continued their momentum, getting a bit of a break that led to another great chance, this time when Brookbank's attempted pass off the end boards hit the referee and went right to Kane, who saw Hossa in the slot and quickly fed him.  Hossa one-timed it off the post to the left of Hiller with the puck bouncing back to Kane who tried lifting a backhander over a sprawled duck defenseman and Hiller, but the puck bounced off Brookbank.

The ducks responded a minute or so later, after Getzlaff won a puck battle with Leddy and fed Selanne alone in front, however Crawford reading the play came out and didn't give Selanne much room.  Moments later, Visnovsky had trouble controlling a loose puck, giving Frolik an opening.  Frolik poked it past Visknovsky, who was caught flat footed and Frolik moved in all alone on Hiller, but was thwarted by the ducks goaltender, unable to get it high enough over Hiller.   Kane then took a high sticking penalty midway through the 3rd, on Bobby Ryan and the hawks had taken their 5th penalty of the game.

The ducks created a good chance with some nifty passing in the hawks zone, Getzlaff on the right half boards feeding Fowler at the right point while Getzlaff moved to the high slot.  Fowler fed Selanne in the right corner, and Selanne then fed Getlaff who had a clear shot with Perry in front of Crawford, but failed to connect on the shot/pass attempt with the puck going wide.  The hawks otherwise did a good job of blocking shots and intercepting passes and were able to kill off the penalty.

The ducks got another good chance after McMillan beat Sharp in the right boards, creating a 2 on 1 with Cogliano against O'Donnell.  O'Donnell went down along the ice to prevent the pass, so McMillan cut into the crease from the right side however, Crawford was able to hold his ground, though McMillan fell over him while Sharp picked up the loose puck to clear.

Moments later, Carcillo attempted to corral a Kane bounce pass off the boards at center with one hand and failed allowing Selanne to pick up the loose puck with Kane & Hossa moving towards him.  Selanne effectively trapped all three hawk forwards with a lead pass to a wide open Koivu on right wing who cut back into the circle and forced Crawford to make a good right leg pad save, however, Leddy was caught looking at the puck and failed to cover Ryan whose good chance was also turned aside by Crawford.  Carcillo then nailed Selanne hard in the corner as the hawks finally were able to clear, however, the ducks came right back into the hawk zone, creating more good chances, with Perry redirecting a pass just wide of the hawk net.

The Toews line responded for the hawks, getting some good offensive zone time on their next shift to turn the momentum around and that was followed by a great chance for Hossa.  Beachemin lost his stick and as he was retrieving it, Kane found Carcillo at the ducks line with a long stretch pass from deep in his own zone, which drew Fowler over to Carcillo, and leaving the slot wide open for Hossa.  Carcillo led Hossa with a nice pass sending him in alone but Hiller made a great save to stone Hossa.  Later that same shift, Hossa set a pick to try to give more room for Kane as he was moving into the slot and was called for interference, taking the hawks 6th penalty of the night.

The hawks did a good job on the penalty kill as the ducks failed to really threaten, sending the game into overtime.  The ducks outshot the hawks in the 3rd, 11-9, having three powerplays in the 3rd.


In the overtime, good chances were at a premium, however Toews managed to beat Beauchemin with a nice fake inside out move giving him an opening down the left side however his high shot hit the crossbar and went out of play.  The hawks threatened again a minute later when Bickell picked up a loose puck in his own zone and turned up ice and cutting into the slot as he moved over the line with Stalberg driving the net and causing the ducks defenders to back in.  Bickell moved into the vacated space and fired a low wrister that Hiller stopped, but gave a rebound that Stalberg kicked up to his stick but was in too close to lift it over Hiller's leg pad.  Seabrook was the beneficiary of some good work by Montador, who pinched in to retrieve a loose puck then sent it to Sharp covering at the point who quickly moved it across to Seabrook who was moving into the right circle.  Seabrook fired a low wrist shot with Toews driving the net, however Hiller kicked it out. That sequence was followed up with Toews feeding Sharp at the left point, then heading toward the net as Sharp shot, however, he was unable to do anything with the rebound. 

In the dying seconds of overtime, Hjalmarsson was high sticked by Ryan as both were attempting to retrieve a loose puck at center, but there was only three seconds remaining.  On the ensuring face-off with only 2.4 seconds left, Toews won the draw straight back to a waiting Hossa who fired a one-timer that clung off the post to end the overtime.  The hawks outshot the ducks 6-2 in the overtime.


With the hawks failing to score a single goal in their previous two shootouts, Quenneville decided to switch things up, electing to shoot second and giving Bolland a chance as the second shooter.

Crawford, who had been the hawks best shootout performer giving up only 1 goal in each shootout loss, faced Corey Perry first.  Perry swung out wide right and tried to shoot five hole as he cut back to the front, but Crawford closed his pads and made the save.

Toews followed for the hawks and made several head fakes, patiently waiting as Hiller went down, with Toews going to his left and shooting up high, knocking the water bottle off the net for the hawks first shootout goal, putting them up 1-0

Selanne followed for the ducks, and with a fake that seemed to freeze Crawford, fired a shot high that beat Crawford cleanly to square it at 1.

Bolland followed, faking a slap shot, then trying to slip it through five hole, but Hiller stayed with him to keep it tied.

Getzlaff followed up for the ducks, going left to right and tried low five hole, but Crawford made a left leg pad stop.

Kane then moved in with speed, making several dekes, opening up Hiller, and then calmly slid the puck between the duck's goaltender's legs to give the hawks the win.

Overall, it was Patrick Kane who won this game for the hawks - assisting on both regulation goals and scoring the shootout winner.  He also made a goal saving play defensively, tho his pass to Keith led to the ducks second goal.

The hawks penalty kill was strong, killing off 5 of 6 chances, though the lack of discipline after taking only 2 penalties in their last two games was a concern.

They managed to create some good chances with Frolik & Hossa both failing to convert breakways in the 3rd, but also played better defensively, however this was clearly a game that Patrick Kane led the hawks to victory.

Next up is Carolina on the road.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hawks come back from 3-1 deficit, then blow a 4-3 3rd period lead and lose 5-4 in SO

The night started with great anticipation as the Blackhawks' two biggest legends were honored on Saturday night, having their statues unveiled in front of the United Center, however the hawks couldn't build on the momentum from their solid win in Denver on Thursday or the atmosphere of a memorable night and looked flatfooted to start the game compared to Thursday night.

1st Period - Sleepy Start

Some loose play by Dave Bolland on his first shift resulted in a turnover at center and allowed the Avs to enter the zone, then he was stripped of the puck again in the right corner after trying to put it between his legs, resulting in a good point blank opportunity for the Avs that was only thwarted by Michael Frolik lifting Hejduk's stick just as he was about to shoot. Frolik and Bickell then moved up ice and combined behind the Avs net to set up Bolland at the side, however, Varlamov moved across to cover.

The Kane line followed that with Hossa promptly being stripped of the puck at center, and the Avs quickly transitioned into a 3 on 2, with the puck eventually cleared around to the halfboards where O'Brien beat Carcillo to the puck and centered to Lindstrom open in the slot and he got a good shot off to test Crawford.

The Toews line came out and on the ensuing rush up ice, O'Brien seemed to tug on Patrick Sharp's jersey which apparently was enough for the referee to whistle him for holding and the hawks had an early man advantage.

The hawks powerplay got a couple of good point shots through, first Seabrook with a low drive that Varlamov steered to the corner, then Sharp one-timed another set-up by Kane from the left point and this time Varlamov covered and gave no rebound. The 2nd powerplay unit continued to work it to the points, with Keith blasting from the right point that Varlamov stopped, though the puck trickled in behind him, however, play was called as the referee lost sight of the puck, before a hawk could get to it. On the ensuing faceoff, the 1st unit was back out and Kane danced in from the right side and fired a wrister that Varlamov stopped, leaving a rebound but he covered up before Toews could get to it. Near the end of the powerplay, Toews from behind the net tried to hit Sharp who had sneaked unchecked into the slot from the point, but a good stick by O'Byrne deflected the pass away from Sharp & out of danger. Jay McClement picked up the loose puck at the halfboards and dumped it ahead to Winnick who was moving up with speed and he cut around Toews, the first hawk player back in his own zone, and in on Crawford but Seabrook was able to recover enough to stick check him & prevent a shot on goal with Crawford scrambling across his crease.

After an Avs offside, they again moved it deep into the hawk zone, with two Avs battling Montador behind the net and finally Duchene emerged with the puck and skated right out in front untouched but he shot it wide, with O'Donnell & Landeskog battling in front of Crawford for position.

The hawks attempted breakout was stopped at center and in fact they didn't get it into the Colorado zone until Kane beat Quincey to the puck on an icing in the left corner. Moments later, Kane tried to catch Varlamov by surprise, attempting to bank it off him from a sharp angle while almost even with the goal line which the Avs goaltender managed to handle. Later, Landeskog with a strong backcheck simply stripped Hossa of the puck along the right halfboards and cleared around to Hejda behind his own goal. Hejda fired a pass to Winnik beyond the red line at center who turned and headed away from the hawk zone back towards the red line, drawing Keith with him, then slid it over to the onrushing O'Reilly who with full speed blew past Keith & Sharp and in on a 2 on 1 with Leddy the lone hawk back. O'Reilly was on his backhand with Leddy cutting off his angle, so he stopped and turned, trying to pass to Landeskog alone in the slot, thanks to beating Sharp back, however the pass hit Leddy and a good chance was for the Avs went by the wayside.

The teams exchanged rushes, however were denied good chances by some tighter checking until Erik Johnson got caught on a pinch deep in the corner of the hawks zone when he backhanded a pass to the slot that was knocked away. The hawks broke out 3 on 1, with Montador recognizing the situation and jumping up into the play. Sharp carried in deep and made a perfect saucer pass to Montador wide open in the slot, however he shot it wide.

A few minutes later, Bickell just failed to connect with a pass to Bolland alone at the side of the Avs net as Varlamov stopped it, then later on the same shift, Frolik intercepted a pass attempt at center by Hejda and moved in alone on the Avs netminder but Hejduk was able to knock the puck off his stick with a diving stick check before he could get a shot off.

Colorado 1, Chicago 0  - replica of Av goal in Denver

With just over 5 minutes left in the first, the hawks 4th line created a chance on a nice 3 way passing play from Mayers to Kruger to Stalberg who batted the puck out of mid air but he missed the net. About a minute later, an Avs dump in was cleared by Crawford up the left boards, however, Jones beat Bolland to the puck and played it back to O'Brien at the right point, then headed to the front of the net along with Stastny. O'Brien fed it to Quincey at the left point who fired a shot that Stastny tipped past Crawford, very similar to the goal the Avs scored in Denver, but unlike Thursday's game, it was the Avs who had struck first to make it 1-0 late in the first. Both Jones & Stastny were alone in front and in behind both Bolland and Keith, with Leddy also out of position on the play.

Then with just under two minutes left in the period, the hawks were caught again on an odd man rush as Hejduk recovered a hawk's clear at his own line and he threw it up to Winnick at the hawk line and Winnick moved in and fired a low shot that Crawford handled. Moments later, the Avs beat the hawks to another dump-in as Landeskog knocked Mayers stick out of his hands and recovered the loose puck in the corner and fed O'Reilly in the circle who got another good shot that Crawford stopped.

That was it for the good chances in the 1st period as the Avs outshot the hawks 7-6, despite taking the only penalty.

2nd Period - Strange sawoff

The hawks started the second with some good zone time by the Toews line, with Brunette setting up Leddy who had drifted into the slot from his point position, but his backhand was stopped. A scrum ensued after the whistle with O'Brien & Toews pushing and shoving, tho no penalties were called.

Frolik freebie - Colorado 1, Chicago 1

After a zone clear from the faceoff, Hjalmarsson fired the puck from his own line, and it was deflected into the zone by Carcillo to negate any potential icing. Carcillo proceeded to go after the puck deep in the Av zone, but was cutoff by Hejda, who appeared to make contact with Carcillo's head, as #13 spun down to the ice and around several times tho no penalty was called on the play. Hejda recovered the puck and passed behind the net to his partner Erik Johnson who inexplicably sent the puck right up the slot and straight onto Frolik's stick and the puck was behind Varlamov before he could react and the game was tied less than a minute into the 2nd.

The Avs didn't seem deflated by the goal, however, as they went back to work in the hawk zone off a dump-in where Crawford behind his own net again passed it to the corner where Galliardi beat Montador to the puck and passed it back to Kobasew who got a good shot off.

Later in the shift, Lindstrom's cross-ice pass in the hawk zone for Kobasew went to Hossa, who mishandled it, and instead of stopping to block it, continued to skate by it after failing to control it and Kobasew then easily recovered the puck in the slot and fired a shot that fortunately was deflected just wide in front. Kyle Quincey was the first player in the corner to recover the puck and noticing that Crawford was still scrambling trying to get back in net after Kobasew's shot, and fired a hard pass/shot right across the crease, presumably hoping for a deflection. The puck ended up with Lindstrom at the side of the net, but before he could do anything with it, he was bodied by Carcillo. Kane finally got control, but was obviously tired and his zone clear attempt was intercepted at the blue line and dumped right back deep into the hawk zone. He eventually succeeded in lifting the puck out to center for Carcillo, but the pass was intercepted and the Avs moved right back up ice on a 3 on 2 with Duchene in the slot just failing to connect with McClement who was wide open cutting in on the left side. The hawks cleared the zone again but not for long, tho Hossa did manage to get off for his change. Keith's attempt to clear off the glass appeared to hit a stanchion and went right to McClement in the high slot. He passed to Duchene who eventually worked it back to Johnson at the point who tested Crawford again.

The hawks finally entered the Avs zone with the Toews line, with good movement by Sharp, who took a short dump pass from Brunette in the left corner and skated back to the line where suddenly the slot opened up for him, and he proceeded to move in deeper, tho apparently too far to the right side for a good shooting angle, so he decided to pass - only there was no hawk anywhere near where he passed it. The Avs gladly took the turnover and again moved quickly to the attack with another odd man rush, this time with defenseman Wilson's centering pass hitting O'Donnell's skate and the danger was over for that rush.

The hawks finally tested Varlamov again with Seabrook moving up the right side which had been vacated by the Avs on a change and he got a low hard shot on Varlamov who made the save.

On the ensuing faceoff, the Avs turned up ice again and the hawks once again failed to clear a dump-in out of the zone, with Hossa yet again failing to control and clear the puck after Hjalmarsson moved it to the right half boards. His attempted pass hit Winnick, and the loose puck was quickly taken by Jones, who then left it for Hejduk who was skating towards the point. He fed it to Stastny who was moving in from the point and Stastny easily evaded Hossa's feeble stick check, and he just missed connecting with Jones on a redirect attempt. O'Brien pinched deep into the corner from his point position and kept the puck in, feeding Stastny behind the net. Stastny's stuff attempt on Crawford's left didn't work so he then moved to the other side of the net & set up pinching Quincey for a one-timer that Crawford stopped with the blocker. The hawks Seabrook finally recovered the puck and as he moved up the right boards, appeared to be cross-checked by Stastny from behind, resulting in a turnover but no penalty was called and Crawford finally got a stoppage after stopping Stastny's shot.

Colorado 2, Chicago 1 - bad bounce

The hawks fourth line managed to get the puck into the Avs zone, however, they couldn't sustain any zone time. The Avs were finally rewarded for not allowing the hawks to clear their own zone on a dump in as Hjalmarsson's hard around went past Bickell to the point, where it was kept in and moved to Stastny on the right half boards. He passed it to Hejduk behind the goal line who smartly moved to the right corner drawing Hjalmarsson over and opening up space behind the net for Jones, who moved in to the open area taking Hejduk's pass. Jones moved out from behind the net on Crawford's right and his attempted centering pass deflected in off Seabrook and the Avs had the lead once again, 2-1.

The hawks tried to respond the next shift with Stalberg replacing Carcillo on Kane's line, providing more speed and quickness, with Stalberg picking up a loose puck just inside the Av line caused by Kane's quick hands, however his shot was fired wide. Toews's line then tried to carry the next shift and had some offensive zone time, tho late in the shift O'Donnell's deep pinch almost cost the hawks as they failed to control and the Avs had another odd man rush, tho they were at the end of a shift and opted for a change instead.

Colorado 3, Chicago 1

The good fortune for the hawks didn't last however, as a minute or so later, O'Donnell's clear attempt out of the zone was intercepted by McClement who quickly countered, skating behind the hawk net all the way to the left half boards with three hawks in pursuit. McClement passed it to the right point and headed off for a change after the puck was sent back into the right corner where MacLeod won the puck battle, beating both Toews & O'Donnell. He moved towards the back of the net for O'Reilly, who sent it back to MacLeod along the right boards, drawing O'Donnell and Toews back toward Macleod, who then reversed the puck again to O'Reilly behind the net, who saw Landeskog, just off the bench, driving toward the net past Brunette. O'Reilly then slid the puck into the crease and Landeskog simply beat Montador and shoveled it past Crawford to put the Avs up by two, 3-1. There were a lot of hawk mistakes on that sequence, to the point where every single hawk on the ice earned the minus 1 for the goal against.

With five minutes left, after a TV timeout, the crowd, which had been silenced, responded to the announcement of Bobby Hull & Stan Mikita's statue-unveiling and the presence of the two hawk legends at the game. Quenneville sensed the moment and put out the 4th line with Carcillo replacing Stalberg, to try to generate some energy and emotion.

While they weren't able to accomplish much, shortly afterwards Jonathan Toews did, when he took the puck behind his own net and headed up ice, and after skating past one Av at center, he proceeded to turn Shane O'Brien inside out, going between the two Avs defensmen and skating in all alone on Varlamov but the puck seemed to slide off his stick just as he was getting on top of Varlamov, after O'Reilly seemed to just barely get his stick on Toews right glove. Varlamov froze the loose puck, ending play, while Toews looked at the referee, waving his hand in a manner that suggested that he thought he was fouled. That seemed to provide the hawks with some spark as they finally got some zone time, though didn't really test the Av netminder.

Kane, Hossa and Sharp followed up that shift with more zone time with Hossa getting two clear, point blank shots on Varlamov who was equal to the task. The hawks pressing almost backfired though when Keith was caught pinching after his shot attempt didn't get through and the Avs turned up ice with yet another odd man rush and this time Winnick hit the post to the left of Crawford with a shot from the right faceoff dot. Moments later, Sharp was hauled down by Winnick at center and the hawks had their 2nd powerplay.

Toews to the rescue - Colorado 3, Chicago 2

From the faceoff, the hawks wasted little time, with Keith doing a nice job of keeping the puck in the zone, firing a shot on goal that Varlamov stopped with Brunette parked on his doorstep, but he left a rebound that Toews promptly deposited into the net with Varlamov down & out of position and the hawks were back in it, 3-2. It appeared on the replay that Brunette made contact with Varlamov just after Keith's initial shot, but he was actually pushed in by Hejda so the goal stood without the need for replay.

The hawks actually outshot Colorado 15 to 10 in the 2nd, even though it seemed that the Av had more good chances.

3rd period - Come from behind - blow from ahead

The 3rd period started off slow, with numerous stoppages in the first few minutes. The flow picked up as the Avs got a chance when Winnick, after picking up a loose puck from a failed clear attempt by Montador, tried to stuff a wrap-around that presented some danger with Landeskog in front to distract Crawford, however, the puck went wide.

The hawks got a good chance moments later when Bickell won a board battle behind the Av net and backhanded a centering pass which Bolland pounced on and he fired a point blank shot on Varlamov who was alert and made a good save.

Leddy leads hawks back - Colorado 3, Chicago 3

Less than a minute later, Leddy skated back to pick up an errant Av pass in the hawk zone, then accelerated as he went behind the net, using it to essentially evade the oncoming Lindstrom and he flew up the ice, gaining speed leaving all three Av forwards in his wake as he crossed the blueline, then found Mayers with a pass on right wing, as he continued to drive toward the net. Mayers timed his hard shot to give Leddy a chance at a possible rebound, however, Varlamov's right leg pad save caused the puck to go to the slot. O'Byrne, who was covering Leddy, ended up deflecting the puck into his own net with his skate as he turned to try to prevent Leddy from getting to the rebound and the game was tied. Kruger & Carcillo didn't receive assists on the play, however they both drove hard to the net and were in position to perhaps capitalize on the rebound if it hadn't hit O'Byrne's skate. Less than 5 minutes into the 3rd, the hawks had tied it at 3.

The Avs came close to restoring their lead about a minute later, all stemming from another failed zone clear attempt by the hawks on a dump-in. Hjalmarsson blindly fired the puck from behind the net hard around the boards up the left side, however Bolland, the closest hawk couldn't get there before Stastny, who kept it in at the line, dumping it back into the corner. The puck came to Seabrook behind the hawk net and instead of moving the puck away from the forecheck pressure he dumped it on his forehand back towards the corner, where Jones picked it up. His centering pass attempt was partially blocked by Hjalmarsson with the loose puck going to Bolland, who then fired off the back boards toward the other side, however Frolik was high and not on the half boards, allowing Matt Hunwick to move up and keep it in. The puck then went to Stastny, who returned to Hunwick for a hard point shot that was blocked in front and ended up going to the right point where O'Brien dumped it back behind the hawk net again.

Hjalmarsson again tried to clear, but right into traffic and his clear attempt was blocked, ending up on Stastny's stick who moved to the side of the net unchecked and fed a centering pass to Jones who failed to connect, the puck hitting his skates. Stastny tried to pounce on the loose puck at the side of the crease, and took a couple of wacks at it along with Jones, however Crawford had the the lower post covered with his left leg pad and the puck bounced high and wide. Stastny picked up the loose puck behind the net and his centering pass failed to connect, however, 6'4 Bickell, apparently feeling in giving mood, decided to poke the puck ahead with one hand to Frolik on his right instead of moving up to actually try to take possession. That allowed Hunwick to keep it in, with the puck going to the right halfboards where Seabrook, under pressure from Jones, tried to golf the puck out, with Jones getting a piece of it.

Frolik had a chance to gain control of the puck as it eluded Hunwick for a moment, but he fanned on his attempt to swipe it forward as he skated by it (in the hopes he would have a breakaway) and instead Hunwick who fired a shot wide. Stastny picked up the loose puck in the open corner, turned and centered it but just failed to connect for a redirect with Hejduk in front. The puck went to the far boards where Frolik tried to clear yet again, but failed, with the puck kept in at the line. Fortunately for the hawks, tho, the Avs were in need of a change and the hawks were finally able to move the puck out to center and eventually into the Av zone to allow themselves to change.

TJ Galiardi then picked up the dump in behind his own net and a la Leddy moments earlier blew past the hawks three forwards and went around Leddy before Keith moved over and poked the puck away. The puck went to Duchene, whose centering pass ended up going to Hejda, who tested Crawford with a shot from the left boards.

The hawks finally got another chance at about the halfway mark of the 3rd, when Kane retrieved a loose puck deep in his own zone and lifted a long backhand pass right up the middle of the ice to Hossa at center. Hossa was covered by Hejda, but managed to poke the puck ahead to Sharp who, joined by Kane who flew up the right side, was in on a 2 on 1. Sharp fed Kane who moved in and fired a wrist shot high over a sprawling Johnson that Varlamov made a good left arm save on.

The hawks fourth line almost clicked again a minute or so later, when they broke in 3 on 2, with Mayers timing his shot on net to coincide with Carcillo's arrival there. Carcillo appeared to get a stick on it, but Varlamov stopped it, tho he couldn't control the puck and gave a rebound that the hard driving Kruger missed after he fell, unable to get his stick on it, and instead crashing into the net behind Varlamov.

They threatened again with Kane picking up the puck at center from Hossa and drove up the right side, causing the Av defenders to back in. Kane, sensing the open space behind him, dropped it for the trailing Hossa, who instead of moving into the open slot area for some reason turned back to the right into coverage, before passing it back to Kane behind the net. Hossa took a return pass and then made a cross-ice feed to Leddy who had moved in from his point position, but Varlamov had enough time to move across and cover to make the save. Sharp picked up the rebound at the side of the net, but with his back to the net, took it to the corner to try and reset, rather than attempt to stuff it in.

The Toews line followed-up by maintaining some offensive zone time, but failed to create a dangerous chance. The following shift, the hawks did manage to get a good opportunity when Seabrook jumped into the rush and actually drove to the net as Bolland gained the zone and delayed, dropping the puck for Frolik, who fired a screened shot that hit Varlamov on the blocker.

Hurray for Hossa, the other Slovak - Chicago 4, Colorado 3

The next shift, Kane won the draw outside the Av line back to Leddy who dumped it in to the far corner. Sharp managed to beat O'Brien to the loose puck and passed it back to the point, where Keith fired a low one-timer that Hossa, moving into the slot area, managed to get a stick on and deflect it high past Varlamov and the hawks had come all the way back to take a 4-3 lead with just over 5 minutes left in the 3rd. It seemed fitting that the current high-profile Slovak on the hawks put them in front on a night when his countryman was honored with the unveiling of a statue, but the game, unfortunately for the hawks was not yet over.

Bolland's line followed up Hossa's goal with a strong shift, and the hawks seemed in control. The Avs however, continued to press forward when they got an opportunity and one came on a hawk line change when Duchene took a pass at center in his skates and kicked it up to his stick without slowing down and with his speed cut around O'Donnell as he drove toward the net, but shot it wide.

The hawks had a couple of opportunities as the Avs opened up, with Keith stepping into a point shot that Varlamov stopped and later Bolland had a partial break when Hejda overskated the puck but instead of shooting, he turned and tried a blind backhand pass in front that failed to connect with Bickell.

Boo Brunette - blown coverage leads to tying goal, Colorado 4, Chicago 4

With under two to play, the Avs moved the puck up ice, with Winnick trying to cut to the middle, however Keith jumped up and challenged him, getting a stick on the puck but unable to control it and the puck headed to O'Reilly at the hawk line. Leddy had moved back deeper to cover for Keith, while Brunette, who was the hawk forward back, peeled off his left side, when the puck escaped Keith, leaving the left wing wide open. Landeskog saw the space vacated by Brunette and jumped into it as the puck came to O'Reilly, who quickly moved it over the blueline with his stick and then fed Landeskog with a perfect lead pass and he beat Crawford high on the blocker side and the game was suddenly tied, 4-4.

On replay, it was clear that Brunette failed to make the proper read - he should have recognized when Keith moved across to take Winnick, that he needed to stay on the left side to cover as the only forward back and with both defensemen now on the right side. Perhaps he thought Stalberg with his speed would be able to cover Landeskog, tho it was clear Brunette didn't look over his shoulder to even see Landeskog moving past Stalberg who was caught flatfooted, watching the play instead of reading and reacting to it. In fact Stalberg simply glided at center, away from Landeskog even after Brunette had turned leaving the left side completely open for the highly touted Avs rookie.

Keith can't be faulted for challenging Winnick, as he saw the veteran Brunette in position to provide support, and Leddy properly moved back into a defensive position when he saw Keith move over from his left side to challenge. The goal was primarily on Brunette with Stalberg also responsible to a lesser extent.

The hawks tried to respond on the next shift, with Bickell picking off O'Brien's pass at center and moving it past O'Brien and ahead to Bolland who moving down the left wing now had a 2 on 1 with Frolik on his right. Bolland moved to the top of the crease, but his backhand centering pass failed to get through as the puck rolled wide. In the dying seconds, Toews moved down the left boards and his stick was slashed by Hejduk - it didn't separate right away, but when Toews tried to stickhandle with it and put pressure on it moments later, his shaft gave way and the referee signaled a delayed penalty.  Toews went down to his knees after his stick broke and gloved the puck around to the right half boards where Seabrook touched it, however the play was not whistled down as it should have been and the hawks got one final chance in regulation as Hossa picked up the puck from Seabrook along the boards and fed Hjalmarsson at the point who fired a screened shot which Varlamov made a good glove save on to send it to overtime.

The hawks outshot the Avs 13-6 in the 3rd and 34-23 in regulation, but that did not reflect the run of play.

OT - Opportunity squandered

In the overtime, Quenneville put his top four forwards on the ice together with no defensemen to start the powerplay. Sharp had a couple of chances, one from the point after passing back and forth with Hossa who seemed not to want to even look for a shot, the other on nice setup by Kane who moved into the slot and faked a slap shot before passing to Sharp who had moved into the left circle for a one-timer that Varlamov also stopped. Late in the powerplay, Seabrook moved into the slot from the left point and passed it to Brunette parked alone right in front of the net, but lost control when his attempt to draw it left from his backhand to his forehand and that was it for the hawk powerplay.

The Avs got a good chance when Hossa, after making a good play to strip the puck from Johnson after a faceoff loss in the Av zone, gave it away to Duchene who headed up ice on a 2 on 1. Duchene's attempted centering pass to the trailer Hejda was broken up, but Hejda recovered the loose puck and then round O'Reilly alone in the slot and he forced Crawford to make a good blocker save. From the ensuing faceoff, Frolik made a good play to tie up the Av point man while Bolland picked up the loose puck at the blueline and skated up ice with Seabrook joining the rush to make it a 2 on 1, however, Bolland's pass attempt was broken up and the puck went harmlessly into the corner.

The Avs got one last good chance of their own when Hejduk took a pass at center from Wilson and made an inside out move on Keith to gain an angle, tho Keith stayed with him, causing him to go around the net where he tried to stuff a wraparound that somehow missed and went through the crease.

The hawks outshot the Avs 4-1 in the overtime, but failed to convert their powerplay chance and were headed for a shootout.

Shootout Colorado 1, Chicago 0

Viktor Stalberg, who had gone 3 for 3 in a practice shootout drill earlier in the week was chosen to go first for the hawks, but his backhand went high and wide.

Hejduk then tried to go five hole, but was stopped by Crawford.

Toews, 19 for 38 on his career, tried to shoot, but Varlamov made a good blocker save.

Duchene moved in and tried a high leg kick, then cut to his left and had Crawford down but he couldn't lift it over him and Crawford stopped the low shot.

Kane attempted to deke backhand to forehand, but couldn't get it under Varlamov's right leg pad which took away the bottom part of the net.

Lindstrom the 3rd Av shooter moved into the slot, faked a shot, then moved hard to his right with a deke which Crawford bit on hard, leaving the net exposed and when Lindstrom moved back to his left, he had an open cage slam dunk to give the Avs the win.

Game Summary

Overall, while the hawks came back from a 3-1 deficit to put themselves in a position to win in regulation, it was sloppy defensive play that plagued them, not just on the tying goal, but throughout the game. For whatever reason, they failed to create any momentum from their Thursday win or from the atmosphere surrounding the unveiling of Hull & Mikita's statues before the game and instead at times seemed not to have their heads in the game for most of the first two periods.

Jonathan Toews again led the team back, with a dazzling end to end rush that he just failed to finish, but followed that up shortly afterwards with a powerplay goal late in the 2nd that got the hawks within one.

The hawks had some good fortune on their other goals - with Frolik being gifted a wide open point blank chance on a startled Varlamov, a Mayers rebound that bounced in off a Colorado skate, and a Hossa deflection of a point shot. They also had some bounces go against them, when Jones attempted pass bounced off Seabrook's stick & in behind Crawford. But mostly, it was shoddy defensive zone clearing and coverage that cost the hawks this game.

As much as the Thursday win reminded one of the 2010 Hawks, blowing another 3rd period lead late and losing in a SO reminds one of how the hawks played at home much of last season. This one hurt a bit more than the one to Boston in that they could have had gained two full points in the standings on their western rival Avs, but instead lost 1.

Some positives to take from the game - Toews again was the one to lead his team back with a dazzling end to end rush, with some great moves that while not ultimately getting a goal, marked a turning point in the game. He also rebounded on faceoffs winning 12 of 20.

Leddy seems to be gaining confidence and his end to end rush showed some top end speed that led directly to the tying goal. He still needs more experience with defensive zone reads, but could not be at all faulted on the tying goal.

Frolik finally got on the board - hopefully that takes some pressure off and gives him more confidence.

Kane continues to be dangerous everytime with the puck - the move to center so far hasn't stifled his offensive creativity and appears to have made him more responsible defensively, tho the fact he hasn't gotten a point in the last couple of games is a bit concerning.

The fourth line with Carcillo on it looked good - they created some good chances and contributed a goal with their hard driving, straight ahead style.

The not so positives - Stalberg moved up to Toews line, replacing Sharp, however, he did little offensively and worse was watching the tying goal instead of reading and reacting to try to prevent it. His failed to force Varlamov to make a save on his shootout attempt.

Sharp moved to Kane and Hossa's line - they did combine for a goal, tho with three top offensive players, I expect more.

Defensive zone coverage - aside from Brunette's misread on the tying goal, the poor defensive play isn't just one or two defensmen or forwards - the whole team is struggling. Colorado deserves some credit for having good skating forwards that can match (or exceed) the hawks stride for stride, but the hawks also made some unforced errors that need to be corrected.

They also need to be more willing to take the man all over the ice rather than simply play the puck - that is one part of being more difficult to play against. The hawks are a fast, skilled team but as Boston showed in the playoffs, having size and being physical with speed and skill is the ultimate combination and it looks as though the hawks still lack the necessary physicality.

Next up for the hawks are the Ducks on Tuesday at the UC.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hawks prevail over Avalanche in fast paced game, 3-1

The Blackhawks cooled off the hot Colorado Avalanche in Denver 3-1, in the first half of a home & home, in a fast-paced, high-tempo game where both goaltenders excelled.

The Avalanche, in their first game back after having won five straight on the road, were flying high, boasting the highest scoring offense in the league and the top powerplay. The Hawks had not lost in regulation since opening night, and coming off perhaps their best performance, their first road win of the year in Phoenix.

Despite the 3-1 scoreline, the scoring chances were plenty, with Colorado getting the first good one just over a minute in, when Hossa was checked off the puck by Duchene at center, who led Joakim Lindstrom along the left boards. As he crossed the blue line Milan Hejduk streaked down the left side in front of him, effectively outnumbering Seabrook. Lindstrom fired a shot high on Crawford from the top of the left circle which he was able to fend off raising his blocker, but he left a rebound which Hejduk pounced on, trying to go five hole, but Crawford had the bottom of the net covered. Hossa & Kane responded by taking the puck back down the ice and controlling the play in the Colorado zone, however, they never tested Varlamov.

Moments later, as the hawks were changing with Bolland moving through center, he was poke-checked by David Jones and the puck went to Duncan Keith at the hawk blue line, who had just come off the bench - however, the man he was replacing, Hjalmarsson, had not yet gotten off the ice, and the hawks were whistled for too many men.

The Avs tested Crawford early & often on the powerplay with several good chances, after Hejduk won the draw against Bolland. He set up Stastny in the dot of the circle to the right of Crawford and fired a quick low shot at Crawford with Jones parked in front, but Crawford made the save. Jones picked up the puck behind the net, then moved it back to the point, while moving in front and tipped the point shot on net which Crawford managed to stop.

Seconds later after a hawk clear, the Avs moved back over the blueline with Winnick drawing Keith towards him, then slid it back to the left side where a streaking Stastny moved in with a clear shot on Crawford from the faceoff dot. Crawford moved out to challenge the winger, and stoned him with another excellent save.

Toews then picked up the rebound and slowly skated it to center, while both teams changed, giving Toews an opening - noticing that forward Lindstrom was back along with Johnson, Toews turned on the jets and blew past Lindstrom giving him the angle on Johnson as he cut in on Varlamov getting off a good backhand which the Av goalie stopped.

The Avs picked up the loose puck and moved right back up ice, with Kobasew taking Johnson's lead pass into the hawk zone and again feeding Stastny streaking down the left side, who passed it cross-ice to the trailer Hejduk, who got off a good backhand which Crawford stopped. The hawks managed to kill off the rest of the penalty without giving up any more good chances.

The teams then traded 5 on 5 chances, with quick transitions and counterattacks on change/loss of possessions with perhaps the best chance coming when TJ Galiardi intercepted Stalberg's cross-ice pass attempt just inside the Avs line, and immediately turned up ice with it, trapping four hawks in deep, while MacLeod joined him on a 2 on 1, with O'Donnell the lone hawk back, but Crawford made another good save, this time on MacLeod, covering up before Galiardi had a chance to pounce on the loose puck.

Bolland and Bickell then led the hawks up ice, and with Bickell retrieving the puck along the right boards after his shot attempt was blocked, Bolland drew a penalty driving to the goal as he was cross-checked from behind, causing him to collide with Varlamov & dislodging the net, giving the hawks their first powerplay.

The hawks never really tested Varlamov as the Avs did a good job of aggressively getting in shooting lanes & blocking the few shots attempted, and forcing the hawks to move the puck quickly. Seabrook's shot at the end of the powerplay was the only time the hawks really threatened, however, the shot didn't get through and Hossa was unable to control the rebound for a chance.

Kane then led a rush out of his own zone and carried deep into the Av zone before stopping at the top of the right circle and firing a high wrist shot that Varlamov grabbed without giving up a rebound as Kruger drove to the net looking for loose change.

Moments later, the Avs came close when O'Byrne from his own blueline hit rookie Gabriel Landeskog just over the hawk line with a hard pass. Landeskog, then made a deft pass to spring oncoming Ryan O'Reilly past O'Donnell and into an opening on the right side - O'Reilly managed to get a good backhand off that hit the crossbar. That line kept possession and the pressure on in the hawk zone for the rest of their shift with O'Reilly getting another good chance after being set up by Winnick right in the slot but his low screened shot was stopped by Crawford without giving a rebound.

The Bolland line came on for the next shift, with Bickell getting a good chance after skating into the zone and then from deep in the right corner he skated behind the net to the other side & then moving out in front, turned and fired a hard shot that Varlamov kicked out.

Kane's line followed that up with a strong shift of their own, keeping possession in the offensive zone for the duration, even to the point where Kane and Hossa were able to change with the hawks still with possession in the Avs zone. Brunette then tried to hit Leddy, who had moved into the slot area for a chance, however the pass was broken up by Hejda, with the puck deflecting deep into the left corner. Leddy then beat his #8 counterpart to the corner and managed to get the puck to Carcillo who was coming around from behind the net. He then hit Toews, who had just come off the bench for Kane and was driving toward the net unchecked and Toews lifted a backhand high over Varlamov's stick side and into the top corner and the hawks had a 1-0 lead, against the run of play, shots & scoring chances on a beautiful goal.

The Avs tried to respond immediately, keeping the puck in the hawk zone on the next shift with the hawks fourth line on the ice, however, Cody MacLeod was a bit overly aggressive, hitting a prone Stalberg from behind into the boards head first, and drawing a boarding penalty. O'Donnell, who had made a solid hit on Jay McLement seconds earlier in the same vicinity, skated over to MacLeod right after the hit and gave him a shove, and let him know that his dangerous hit wasn't appreciated (or something to that effect). Mayers and O'Byrne appeared to also be exchanging words as they tied each other up, but nothing further developed - Stalberg got up fairly quickly and appeared no worse for wear as the hawks went on their second powerplay.

The hawks were able to enjoy some zone time in the Avs end, however, never tested Varlamov as Seabrook's point shot was blocked near the end of the powerplay. The hawks were outshot 13-6 in the 1st, despite having two powerplays to the Avs one, but scored the only goal.

The Hawks started the second with some sloppy play, failing to clear their zone despite several chances to do so, which gave the Avs some momentum. Just over two minutes in, the Avs gained the hawk line with another stretch pass by Quincey from his own blueline that found Lindstrom, who delayed once he gained the hawk zone, then found Hejduk who had beaten Bickell back down the right side, however he shot it high and wide.

On the next shift, the hawks again turned it over in their own zone, allowing the Avs to recover a dump in behind the hawk net, with Winnick setting up O'Reilly who had moved in close but Crawford was alert and stopped it. Moments later, Ryan Wilson from his own zone found David Jones in behind the hawks defense and led him perfectly with a breakaway pass, however, Seabrook somehow managed to recover and steal the puck cleanly before he got a chance to get a shot off, without fouling the Av forward.

Kane & Hossa then combined to create a couple of good chances for the hawks, however, Varlamov was solid. On the following shift, Sharp was stripped of the puck as he carried in over the Avs line and Winnick quickly headed back deep into the hawk zone with O'Donnell & Sharp in pursuit. Winnick turned and found a wide open trailer, Hejda at the left point who skated into the circle before letting a shot go, allowing Crawford time to come well out to cut down the angle, and his shot was blocked & slid wide of the open cage.

The hawks responded, with Frolik getting a couple of good chances, first firing a shot from the left half boards that seemed to surprise Varlamov, whose positioning rather than reaction allowed him to stop it. Frolike got another chance later in the shift, taking a pass in the slot from Bolland and cutting between two defenders to get a backhand on net that Varlamov had to be alert to stop.

The Avs followed that up with yet another odd man rush that eventually led to a chance for O'Reilly who picked up a loose puck after Toews was checked along the left half-boards and he cut into the slot and just missed the net with a shot to the side where Crawford had moved from.

The next shift, the Avs continued to pressure the hawks in their own zone, who were not able to complete a line change and Lindstrom made another deft backhand pass from the left corner to Hejduk, who for some reason Bickell had left alone in front, and he was able to get a good forehand off from in close that tested Crawford. After the hawks were able to clear, Johnson from behind his own goal line just failed to connect with Kobasew for a breakaway at the hawk line, however, Crawford's backhand pass off the boards to Seabrook missed and Jones picked up the loose puck, and skating behind the hawk net found Johnson in from the right point who fired a shot that seemed to catch Crawford awkwardly in the midsection, tho he managed to hang on while staying down briefly.

The hawks penchant for giving up odd man rushes finally cost them as Leddy was caught pinching at the Colorado line trying to keep an Avs clear attempt in the zone, while the rest of the Avs headed up the ice and Bolland trying to cover for Leddy. O'Byrne, recognizing that the young hawk defenseman was caught, smartly moved up on the rush on the right side as a trailer, making it a 4 on 3 cutting to the net unchecked as the hawk defenders backed in, giving Lindstrom, the puck carrier, lots of space and he turned & fed Duchene who wristed a shot that deflected and bounced right in front where an unchecked O'Byrne was and the puck hit off his glove & in behind Crawford to tie the game, 1-1. Leddy may have decided to pinch as part of heading off to the bench, but the decision ended up costing the hawks.

Chicago tried to respond with the fourth line getting some offensive zone time which was followed up by the Toews line getting a a good chance when Toews picked up a loose puck in the slot & firing on a turnaround that Varmalov had to be sharp to save. Kane and Hossa then almost connected with Kane firing a shot on net from the left circle, but Hossa was unable to connect on the rebound then later Kane set Hossa up for a one-timer from inside the line that was blocked before it got through. Toews' line followed that up with Toews setting up Sharp in the last minute for a chance that was saved by the Avs goalie, then in the dying seconds, Seabrook realizing there was not time for the Avs to counter, smartly headed into the slot as Brunette recovered the puck in the Avs corner, fed Toews behind the net and the captain found Seabrook moving in all alone in front, but his point blank shot was kicked aside by the right pad of Varlamov who didn't have much time to react and the game remained tied 1-1 after 2 periods.

As in the first period, the team that had the fewer shots in the period ironically scored the only goal, as the hawks outshot the Avs 12-8.

The hawks came out strongly in the third as they had finished the second, getting a good chance less than a minute in when Leddy's point shot was deflected in front, but stayed out. A few minutes later Toews on the rush had an opening down the right side & fired a shot that Varmalov handled without giving a rebound. Kane and Hossa followed that shift with Kane taking Hossa's pass and fired a wrister that tested Varmalov. On the next shift, Bolland from behind the Avs net set up Frolik with a similar point blank chance that Seabrook had at the end of the second and Varmalov made yet another great save.

Patrick Sharp then picked up a loose puck at center after Keith had stopped an Avs rush and he moved into the Av zone on right wing and fired a high shot from a sharp angle that Varlamov stopped, however, he couldn't control the rebound which went to Brunette driving the net from the slot, who fired a shot which Varmalov made an excellent blocker save. Sharp then picked up the loose puck in the corner and skated to the left circle, turned and fired a shot stick side, finally managing to beat Varlamov to the hawks were up again, 2-1.

The Avs tried to respond quickly, getting a point blank chance off of a poor Kane pass in his own zone to an open wing, which Colorado recovered, with Stastny setting up Jones in front, however Seabrook managed to get his stick on the shot & deflect it out of play. Hossa & Kane eventually recovered and got some good offensive zone time on the shift. The hawks to their credit didn't lay back, but kept moving forward at every opportunity, though they were also fortunate to avoid a penalty call on Hjalmarsson who appeared to close his hand on the puck after falling in his own zone, and sending/throwing the puck for icing, which prompted a time out by Quenneville to give the guys at the end of a long shift a breather.

With about five minutes to go, it appeared the hawks had the clincher when Kane, in the Avs zone, made some nifty moves in traffic, moving to his left and into the slot before finding Kruger off to the right side of the net however Varlamov made a dazzling glove save on Kruger's one timer to keep it a one goal game. On the ensuing faceoff, Toews gained control behind the Avs net and threatening a wrap-around from behind the net, which pulled Varlamov to the near post, instead set up Sharp to the left of the Av net, however, his shot at the gaping cage was deflected wide by Quincey. The Avs then moved up ice as Jones cut in from the left side but Crawford managed to make the save without giving a rebound. On the next shift, Wilson fired a point shot through traffic that Crawford managed to squeeze. Quincey fired a shot off the face-off win which hit Crawford, who didn't appear to see it. The Avs continued to press on, getting a couple of more good chances with O'Reilly getting tripped up by Seabrook after tesing Crawford with just over 2 minutes left, giving the Avs their second powerplay.

The hawks managed to get a couple of crucial clears in the first 30 seconds of the penalty kill, before the Avs pulled Varlamov for a 6 on 4 skater advantage, and were able to gain possession in the hawk zone after Keith failed to clear a dump-in. Hejduk got a chance, but his shot was turned aside by Crawford with his leg pad along the ice, then he was able to block a point shot floated in by Johnson but left a rebound which created a scramble in front - the Avs managed to get to it twice, but both times shot wide with the puck managing to get out of the zone after the second shot as no Av was covering the right point. Toews managed to challenge Johnson at center for the loose puck, giving Hossa enough time to jump up and recover the loose puck and move in over the Av line to score on the empty net shorthanded to salt the game away, 3-1 Chicago. Landeskog moved in after the penalty expired and tested Crawford one last time, with Crawford fittingly makinge the save on the original shot and on the rebound before time expired.

Shots on goal were even at 11 for the third, and favored Colorado 32-29 for the game, many of them high quality chances (and some that never made it on net), though the hawks had plenty of good chances as well, particularly in the 3rd period.

Overall, the hawks had a solid team effort to come away with the win, led by Crawford, who made difficult saves look routine as the Avalanche tested him early and often. A fast-paced, well-played game, the hawks were able to withstand Colorado's early onslaught, thanks mainly to Crawford and then eventually created their own chances.

While Kane was held off the scoresheet, he and Hossa combined for some good offensive zone time with Kane setting up Hossa and Kruger for two very good scoring chances, while Toews and Sharp led the way offensively. Of the players who failed to connect, Michael Frolik was perhaps the most impressive, managing a team leading five shots on goal for the game, several of them good opportunities in just over 14 minutes of ice time, tho he ended up with a -1.

The defense was solid again with all three pairings contributing, limiting the mistakes and getting plenty of support from the forwards and of course being backed up by Crawford.

Toews with a goal & an assist and a +3 and 5 shots on goal in just under 18 minutes was the most productive hawk forward, though he was only 6 for 16 on face-offs, as Colorado dominated the dots, 31-23, with Bolland the only hawk center finishing at .500

If the rematch in Chicago on Saturday is anything like this game, the fans are in for a treat. The hawks will also be unveiling statues of Bobby Hull & Stan Mikita before the game, long overdue honors to two hawk legends who helped build the franchise.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hawks rebound vs. Phoenix for first road win, 5-2

The Hawks bounced back from their SO loss to the defending Stanley Cup champions with a solid team effort on Tuesday and picked up their first road win of the year against the Coyotes. Marion Hossa returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game with an undisclosed upper body injury apparently suffered against Winnipeg.

The hawks got an early powerplay less than two minutes in, where Pyatt hit Hjalmarsson into the boards behind the hawk net. Their first good scoring chance came when Patrick Kane at center found Patrick Sharp skating along the blueline & perfectly led him with a pass behind the Phoenix defensemen lined up at the blueline, giving Sharp a clear break from the left side, tho Labarbara cut off the angle giving Sharp little to shoot at.

The hawks continued to buzz the offensive zone on the powerplay in particular the line of Bolland, Bickell & Hossa, however, couldn't get one past Labarbara.

The hawks then got a penalty of their own, as Phoenix threatened in the hawk zone, Mikael Boedker was hooked by Daniel Carcillo as he cut into the slot for a shot.
The Coyotes had a couple of close calls, one where an attempted pass by Vrbata deflected high off of Yandle and appeared headed over Crawford and toward the net but an alert Crawford knocked it away.

The teams traded some good chances after the expiration of the hawk penalty. Carcillo failed to clear the hawk zone and that led eventually to a chance for Pyatt alone in front, however, he shot it wide. Carcillo later blocked a point shot that helped finally clear the hawk zone. The hawks fourth line then had a good shift, getting some good zone time in the Phoenix end, however, couldn't score.

That was followed up by a good shift from Kane, Hossa & Carcillo, with LaBarbara making a good save on Carcillo, who picked up a deflected Kane shot and fired it right away from 15 feet. Hossa then interecepted a clear attempt and set up Montador at the blueline, who stepped into it, but Labarabara made a good stick save. Hawks were outshooting Phoenix 11-3 at that point. That was followed up by a good shift from the Toews line, continuing the strong forechecking, hemming the Yotes in their own zone.

Bolland later led a 3 on 2 rush, and fed Frolik on the right side after entering the zone, while driving toward the net, taking Aucoin with him. Frolik then delayed, drawing a defender towards him, while passing to Bickell moving in alone from the left side. Bickell got a point blank shot away, however, Labarbara made the save, while Bolland crashed into the post, falling and hitting the side/back of his head on the ice. He stayed down momentarily, clutching his head, but got up and skated off, while Aucoin was assessed a minor for interference.

On the ensuing powerplay, Andrew Brunette won a puck battle in the right corner and found Kane in the right circle, driving all alone toward the front of the net where Korpikoski managed to tug Kane's left glove with his stick, causing Kane to lose control of the puck and Korpikoski to get a minor for hooking, thus giving the hawks a 5 on 3.

The hawks finally connected after a couple of back & forth passes, first between Keith, who had gained the line, and Kane, then Keith from the right point, fed Hossa at the top of the left circle. Hossa fed it to Sharp down low, causing Klesla to drop down to cover Sharp, giving Hossa a clear shot which he one-timed on the return feed from Sharp, 1-0 Hawks.

The hawks almost gave up another shorthanded goal on the second minor when Leddy failed to get the puck in deep, allowing Hanzal to clear the zone by passing it to former hawk Vrbata who was then 1 on 1 vs. Seabrook. After gaining the line, Vrbata delayed, and with the hawks changing, Morris smartly moved down the right side unchecked and Vrbata led him with a perfect pass that allowed him to move in alone from the right circle on Crawford who came out to cut down the angle. Instead of shooting, Morris quickly skated behind and around the hawk net, as Crawford, Leddy and Seabrook tried to scramble back into position. Both Seabrook and Leddy, however, overpursued Morris, leaving Daymond Langkow all alone in front of a still vacated net and forunately for the hawks, Morris's pass handcuffed Langkow, hitting him in the skates and the puck bounced harmlessly wide.

There were so may sloppy plays on this shift that led to the Phoenix chance - first, Leddy at the end of a shift failed to get the puck in deep to allow for a line change and instead gave up possession. Then, compounding the error, both he and Seabrook were caught checking Vrbata by the hawk bench (looking to change), leaving the entire right side of the ice wide open for Morris. Leddy, quickly tried to recover and chase down Morris, only to overpursue, leaving both him & Seabrook behind the net and no one in front to cover. Crawford was also slow to get back in position and the hawks were very fortunate that none of these bad decisions cost them a momentum turning goal against right after they had just worked so hard to get the lead.

The hawks escaped further damage and left the first with a 1-0 lead, outshooting Phoenix 15-4.

The second didn't start well for the hawks as Kane lost the draw, and Hjalmarsson lost a puck battle in the corner with the puck ultimately sent back to the point where Schlemko's shot from the left point got through with Crawford stretching to make a low glove save, but he couldn't control the puck as it sat in front with both Pyatt and Hjalmarsson trying to get to it, it appeared that Hjalmarsson may have actually scored as he was trying to steer the puck back to Crawford to cover, tho Pyatt's stick was also there at the same time, attempting to direct it on net and he ended up with credit for the goal that tied the game 1-1.

The hawks tried to respond, with a good shift by Toews following the goal against. That was followed up with a strong shift by the fourth line, again with good zone time in the Phoenix end, with Stalberg getting a good chance intercepting a bad clear attempt by Labarbara from behind his own net - Stalberg tried to one-time it from the left circle, but Labarbara managed to get back in his net to make the save.

They were eventually rewarded for their efforts when Patrick Sharp took a pass from Seabrook at center and found Brunette moving in over the line. Brunette delayed while Toews drove the net, then timed his shot to perfection, as Toews arrived first to pick up the rebound and stuff it behind Labarbara and the hawks had restored their lead, 2-1.

That was followed up by a strong shift from Kane's line with Hossa missing a great chance at the side of the crease with an open net, failing to get a stick on the rebound from Kane's wrist shot from the left faceoff dot. 13-88-81 continued to control possession in the Phoenix zone for a good minute, until the puck was finally cleared out behind Montador who had moved in for a shot, givng Whitney a partial break down the left side. O'Donnell did a good job recovering and cutting down his angle and options, especially given that Whitney was a right handed shot, however, Whitney's centering pass attempt went off O'Donnell's skate to an open area where Doan was able to easily beat the overpursuing Montador to the puck and he turned to find the trailer, Ekman-Larsson alone in the slot, having beaten Kane back, but he fired his shot wide. Kane picked up the puck as it was heading back in front after bouncing off the boards, and as he skated behind the hawk net, Whitney tried to lift his stick, but caught Kane in the face and was assessed a high sticking minor.

Hawks had a good chance with Keith firing a hard shot from the line but Labarbara was able to hang on without giving a rebound. Shortly after the powerplay ended, Duncan Keith had all kinds of trouble with a seemingly routine cross-ice pass from Montador in his own zone, losing an edge on his skate and eventually falling down and into the boards, allowing Langkow to easily recover the puck and he fed Whitney who was smartly moving into the slot, in behind all the hawks who were skating up ice, assuming that Keith would move the puck up. Whitney faked, then fired the puck up high glove side, beating Montador who had gone down to try to take away the low shot, and Crawford who seemed handcuffed by the slight delay, going down enough to leave room up top and the game was tied again, 2-2.

Keith redeemed himself less than a minute later, recovering the puck in the hawks left corner and clearing up to Kruger on the side boards, who led a streaking Mayers at center into a wide open right side as the Yotes were changing. Mayers moved in to the right circle and fired a shot from about 20 feet that went high & wide and rebounded to Stalberg on the left side boards, who fed Keith back at the left point, and his hard point shot was tipped by Mayers who had moved into the slot and the hawks were back in front, 3-2.

The hawks continued to carry much of the play the rest of the second, with Kane drawing yet another penalty, this time a trip on Shane Doan who got tried to stick check the puck from Kane but instead caught his skate & took them out from underneath him and the hawks had a late powerplay, though were unable to convert, outshooting Phoenix 12-5 in the second. With the seconds winding down at the end of the 2nd, Martin Hanzel gave Hossa a slight cross-check to the back behind the Phoenix net - Hossa immediately turned and went after Hanzal, swinging his stick at Hanzal's feet, while Hanzal swung back in return, tho neither appeared to connect. Hossa was given a minor for slashing, giving Phoenix a powerplay to start the 3rd on a fresh sheet of ice.

Despite outshooting the Yotes 27-9 through two, the hawks led by only 1 and were shorthanded for a full two minutes to start the third. They were able to kill off the minor without yielding a dangerous chance, with Toews doing a good job winning a draw and killing off some clock with some good hustle. However, seconds after Hossa's penalty expired, Sharp took a bad tripping penalty, putting the Yotes right back on the powerplay, as the hawks were flirting with disaster.

They were rescued by none other than Dave Bolland, who took advantage of a poor decision by Keith Yandle to make a drop pass to the last man back, Vrbata, with Bolland pressuring. Bolland easily knocked the puck away from Vrbata, then recovered it and moved in alone and blasted a high slapshot high stickside that beat a startled LaBarbara and the hawks had some breathing room, 4-2.

That seemed to demoralize Phoenix as the hawks easily killed off the rest of their powerplay and created another good chance for themselves, when Toews was sent in alone after Yandle made a poor decision, not getting the puck in deep at the hawk line and being stripped of it by Hossa, who led Toews streaking at center in behind Yandle, tho Labarbara made the save. Hossa then checked the puck off a Yote, keeping it in the offensive zone, with the puck eventually finding Toews who moved into the high slot for another clear shot that Labarbara stopped with the glove.

The hawks continued their strong forechecking, keeping Phoenix bottled up in their own zone for long stretches. About halfway through the period, they broke out of their own zone, with Bolland & Frolik catching the Yotes pressing, with Frolik taking a feed from Bolland along the right side boards and he flipped it ahead to Bickell at center with one man back, while Bolland moved past the 2nd defensemen who had tried to pinch on Frolik to keep the puck in the zone. Bickell moved in on the right wing, using Bolland as a decoy & fired a laser that beat Labarbara high off his shoulder and it was 5-2. From that point, the hawks were content to kill the clock, continuing to pressure the Yotes all over the ice without letting up, getting a couple more good scoring chances from Hossa and Sharp, who scored on a net that had been dislodged off its moorings, with about two minutes left, however, after review, the goal was disallowed, though no delay of game penalty was given to Labarbara for knocking the net off. The hawks eventually skated off with a solid team win.

Overall, while the hawks were full value for the victory, outshooting Phoenix 35-16 on the night, there were a couple of key points where the complexion of the game could have changed but didn't thanks to some fortuitous bounces, tho to their credit the hawks did respond well each time Phoenix managed to tie the game.

Hossa's return was noticeable, as he opened the scoring and had several more good chances working together with Kane, and did good work with Toews on the pk. Bolland made his presence felt yet again, scoring a key shorthanded goal that proved to be the clincher and assisting on Bickell's goal.

The hawks got scoring from all four lines, their special teams were good, their forecheck and puck possession was strong, limiting shots against in a game that reminded of their dominance in the Cup year. Keith finished with two points and a +3, despite the turnover that led to Phoenix's 2nd goal and a more reasonable 24 minutes of ice, while Montador & O'Donnell each played over 19, giving the hawks better balance at the back. Even shots on goal was nicely spread among forwards with Leddy & Kruger the only hawks not to register one.

While an encouraging win for Chicago, a bigger & better test awaits in Denver as the hawks next face the high-flying Avalanche, who won all 5 games on their recent road trip and play a high, up-tempo game.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hawks can't hold 3rd period lead, lose to Boston in Shootout.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions looked ripe for the taking, having dropped 3 of their first 4 games of the season and trailing their 5th game heading into the 3rd period to the previous Stanley Cup champions, and giving up an early powerplay opportunity to start the final frame. But the hawks failed to capitalize, going -1 for 3 with the man advantage on the evening and as so often was the case last season, Chicago blew a 3rd period lead at home in eventually losing to the Bruins 3-2 in a SO.

The hawks came out skating, unlike their start on Thursday at home against Winnipeg and carried much of the early play, outshooting Boston 9-2 at one point. Kane had lots of jump again and looked dangerous every time he was on the ice, picking up some loose change that Stalberg left for him inside the Bruins line about five minutes in and he cut right in on Thomas who was forced to make a good save on a backhand.

The Bruins Gregory Campbell tried to change the hawks early momentum by challenging Jamal Mayers to a fight about halfway through the first, with Mayers getting Campbell's helmet off early in the bout & landing a couple of shots and later taking a couple as well, before they twirled around with Mayers losing his balance & falling to the ice. No decision for either.

Stalberg then took a bad penalty deep in the offensive zone for tripping midway through the first, and the Bruins seemed to gain more momentum, getting several chances and shots during the powerplay & afterwards.

The teams continued to trade chances in a fast paced game, with Kane again threatening when he was sprung by a stretch pass from Montador deep in the hawks zone and moved down the left side, evading the over-pursuing Corvo by stopping, then spinning around while Corvo skated past, to get a clear backhand shot on Thomas but the Vezina trophy winner was again equal to the task.

After a physical shift by the fourth line of Scott, Mayers & Kruger, it was Bryan Bickell who struck first, intercepting a pass at center while the Bruins were changing, and he moved in on a breakaway against Thomas, beating him five-hole with a quick wrist shot along the ice and it was 1-0 Chicago late in the first. The goal was recorded as unassisted, but it was Dave Bolland harassing Andrew Ferrence with strong back-pressure with Patrick Sharp closing off his forward options and forcing him into a cross-ice pass attempt, that caused the turnover that gave Bickell the breakaway.

The second period started out promising for the hawks, gaining an early powerplay as goaltender interference was called on Nathan Horton as he made contact with Crawford just as Ferrence was shooting from the left point. About a minute into the man-advantage, Brent Seabrook moved in deep in the Bruins zone along the right side and ripped a shot from a bad angle high & wide of the net. The puck bounced high off the glass, catching three hawks deep in the zone and when Frolik failed to corral the puck along the left boards, it bounced right to Rich Peverley who started up ice along with Chris Kelly, who beat Frolik up ice in a 2 on 1 for Boston, with Keith the lone hawk back. Keith tried to take away the pass by putting his stick along the ice, however, Peverley was able to nevertheless connect with Kelly, streaking down the center and he fired the puck high stick side past Crawford who vainly moved across the goal and suddenly the game was tied, 1-1 on a shorthanded goal.

The hawks rebounded quickly after the powerplay expired, and once again Kane was the catalyst, barely missing a chance at the end of the costly powerplay when he moved across from just inside the right blueline to the left circle, firing a shot just wide. Moments later, he recovered a loose puck behind the Bruins net, then, passed it to himself as he spun around to avoid the check of Ferrence, moving towards the right half boards, before firing a pass to the left edge of the crease that Sharp just failed to connect with for a tap in. Montador then moved in deep to the left corner to recover the loose puck, and found Kane alone at the left faceoff dot and he fired a shot low to Thomas's glove side to restore the Hawks lead, 2-1.

The game settled in after that, with both teams creating chances, the hawks with their skating and transition, the Bruins with their aggressive forecheck and physical play, keeping possession and pressuring the hawks in their own zone.

With about five minutes left in the second, Frolik checked Kelly into the boards from behind and was assessed a minor boarding penalty, sending the Bruins to their second powerplay. They created a couple of good chances, but perhaps the best chance was when Sharp blocked a point shot by Corvo and blew past the Bruins defensemen down the left wing with Seidenberg scrambling back to cut off the slot area. Toews was moving up through center trying to catch up on the play to make it a two on one, but was being pursued by Peverley, yet Sharp, who had a good angle on net decided to give up the shot in favor of a pass to the left-shooting Toews, who had to slow down and turn to his left to be able to one-time the pass, which gave Peverley enough time to break up the play. At the end of the powerplay, the Bruins had a great chance when Chara's shot from the right point was blocked by Hjalmarsson, but the puck bounced right to Peverley, who found Bergeron in front of the net, but his shot was deflected wide by Seabrook, with Crawford scrambling to get across to cover.

The third period started out like the second, with Boston taking an early penalty after Bergeron checked Frolik from behind into the boards at the hawk bench, taking a minor. The hawks couldn't get the powerplay untracked and yet again gave up an odd man rush against late in the powerplay, with a bad pinch by Leddy. The Bruins actually had a three on one this time, with Marchand moving in on the left side and making a cross-ice feed to Paille, who fired a shot that Crawford moved over to save, with Marchand & Bolland getting into a scrum off to the left of Crawford at the end of the play, however, no damage was done.

A few minutes later, the hawks had a chance on a three on two, with Stalberg moving down the left side with Carcillo driving to the net & Kane trailing, however Stalberg moved in deep giving himself a bad shooting angle, yet nevertheless tried to shoot, with Thomas making an easy save as Stalberg had nothing left to shoot at.

As the period wore on, the Bruins came on, using their size & physicality to seemingly wear down the hawks, driving hard to the net, and their determination paid off roughly midway through the period when Boychuk took a backpass at his own blueline, moved to the red line and dumped it in deep into the right corner, then blew past Duncan Keith as he went after his own dump in, retrieving it in the corner while three Bruin forwards closed in around the hawk net with only Leddy between them and Crawford. Boychuck then moved behind the Hawk net unchecked and found Horton moving in from the left side, and he beat Crawford on a one timer and the game was tied, 2-2, with Boston clearly coming on. Leddy had picked up Lucic in front, but Sharp & Toews came back late, leaving Horton (and Seguin) unchecked and it cost the hawks.

The Bruins continued to carry most of the play, but with under five minutes to play in regulation, Benoit Pouliot accidentally high sticked Seabrook and took a minor, giving the hawks an opening. However, for the first minute with the man advantage, the hawks had trouble gaining the zone, and when they finally did, Patrick Sharp was caught holding the stick of Boychuck, killing the powerplay. The hawks had managed only 1 shot on goal in all of their three powerplays on the night, and had given up a shorthanded goal to boot. In fact, they created better chances on the ensuing 4 on 4 than on the preceding powerplay, but still couldn't get a clean shot on Thomas. The Bruins then went on an abbreviated powerplay at the end of Poulliot's penalty and with less than a minute left, Seidenberg moved in from the left point and drilled a shot that rang off the iron.

Then after Sharp's penalty expired, the Bruins moved in again in the dying seconds with Chara firing at the net from the right point that deflected off Hjalmarsson and high over the net, with Crawford raising his arms seemingly in frustration at Hjalmarrson that he couldn't see/find the puck off Chara's stick.

The 4 on 4 overtime with more ice seemed to favor the hawks skating game over the Bruins hard driving, physical forechecking style, however it was Boston that threatened first with Seidenberg moving in unchecked deep down the right side & getting a backhand off that Crawford had some trouble with, leaving a rebound that was picked up by Horton in front, causing some anxious moments before the hawks were able to finally check the puck off him & clear the zone.

The Bruins came close again moments later when Lucic moved in unchecked on the left side but fanned on the shot, with the puck going harmlessly into the corner, however, O'Donnell's clear behind the net to the other corner was picked up by Peverley who turned and skated to the right circle dot & fired a high shot that hit Crawford in the shoulder and bounced in front, where Montador finally recovered.

He smartly passed off to Kane who carried the puck into the Bruins zone, stopping high along the left boards, with O'Donnell, Frolik and Montador all moving in deep past Kane, leaving him as the last man back. Kane was then checked off the puck, trapping the other three hawks deep in the Bruin zone and giving Peverley a clear breakaway from his own blueline, however his deke failed when he flipped a backhand wide of the net on Crawford's stick side.

The hawks had one final chance in OT, when Kane found Seabrook moving in from the right point with a cross-ice pass, however Seabrook was again at a bad angle and his high shot bounced off Thomas across the front of the net where a driving Toews failed to connect. Kane picked up the loose puck and moved back in front for another backhand attempt, however Chara blocked it.

In the shootout, Toews led off, trying to beat Thomas stick side with a deke, but failed to lift the puck high enough on his forehand, catching Thomas' right leg pad. Tyler Seguin followed for Boston and moved in with speed that seemed to handcuff Crawford and he beat him five hole. Kane then moved in and shot for the five hole from 20 feet out, but Thomas was equal to the task. Bergeron followed with a deke attempt but the puck slid off his stick and he never got a shot off. That left it up to Sharp who moved in and fired a shot from a similar spot where Kane had just attempted, which Thomas easily stopped with his left leg pad and that was it.

Overall, Patrick Kane was again the standout for the hawks, however, he didn't get enough support from his teammates. Stalberg returned from injury to replace Hossa, who missed the game due to an "upper body" injury not believed to be serious, however, Stalberg was unable to create much and Carcillo was a non-factor. The line of Toews, Sharp and Brunette was also a non-factor, while Bolland and Bickell combined for the first hawk goal but were also on the ice for the shorthanded goal against.

The hawks powerplay continues to flounder, managing just one shot on net over 3 opportunities on the night and giving up a costly shorthanded goal. Sharp while making a good play on Bickell's goal, did not have a good game - he made a poor choice in passing to Toews instead of shooting when he was in on a 2 on 1, and took a bad penalty that negated a hawk powerplay. Toews, while going over 60% on draws, did little offensively and both he & Sharp were late coming back on Horton's goal, essentially leaving him & Seguin unchecked.

Keith again led the hawks in ice time by a fair margin with over 28 minutes, however, he was badly beaten by Boychuk on the Bruins' 2nd goal and contributed little offensively. He also was beaten on the two-on-one shorthanded goal, allowing the pass to Kelly to get through, though it was a perfectly executed play by Boston (that should have been prevented in the first place by Seabrook making a better decision than shooting from an almost impossible angle and Frolik making a better play to corral the puck).

This was an early season test for the hawks to see how they measure up to the defending Cup champs, and the big difference between these two teams appeared to be that the Bruins not only have lots of speed, skill and size, but they are also more physically aggressive than the Hawks, finishing their checks, driving hard to the net, and in the end, taking a greater toll on their opponents than their opponents did on them. It seemed the hawks were worn down by the end of the game and had no answer back, aside from Kane. While the hawks were missing Hossa, the Bruins were without Krecji, a key contributor to their Cup victory, and McQuaid, a depth defenseman.

The hawks fourth line of Scott, Kruger & Mayers did engage physically for the 10 minutes they were on the ice, and were not overmatched, however, hitting from the rest of forwards, aside from Bickell and Frolik was not noticeable.

The hawks hit the road for their next two games, in Phoenix on Tuesday and Colorado on Thursday in the first of a home & home set with the high-flying Avanlanche.