The Chicago Blackhawks went into Sunday’s game with a rookie goaltender making his first career NHL start and riding a two-game losing streak, but everything came up roses for them as goals from Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook gave them a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Lemont native Scott Darling made 32 saves to secure his first career NHL win for the Hawks, and Patrick Kane picked up the 500th point of his NHL career in the game. Milan Michalek scored the lone goal of the game for the Senators, a short-handed tally in the second period.
The first period got started with the two teams wearing ruts to the penalty box. In all, there were eight minor penalties called in the period, and each team had a pair of power plays. The Blackhawks ended up outshooting the Senators 17-12 in the period, but in spite of scoring chances like Bryan Bickell’s disallowed goal and Jeremy Morin’s shot off the crossbar, neither team could put a goal on the board.
As the second period got underway, the Hawks once again got a great scoring chance, but this time they were able to take the lead just 21 seconds into the period. With each team at four skaters, Kane joined Toews and Duncan Keith on a 3-on-2 rush, and the puck eventually found its way over to the Hawks’ captain. Skating around the net, Toews took advantage of Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson overcommitting to the right side of the net, and his wraparound goal gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks had an opportunity to extend their lead to two goals when Andrew Shaw was hauled down on a breakaway a few minutes later. Unfortunately, Shaw showed why he isn’t relied upon for shootout attempts as his wrist shot was easily knocked away by Anderson to keep the deficit at one goal for the visitors.
About five minutes into the frame, the Blackhawks were on another power play thanks to a Mark Borowiecki penalty, but it was the Senators that ended up capitalizing. When a pass around the boards hit referee Steve Kozari, Brad Richards stayed at the blue line to argue with the official. That left the Senators with an abundance of open ice, and on the ensuing 3-on-1 rush Michalek fired an easy shot past a sprawled out Darling to tie things up at 1-1.
As the period went on, the Blackhawks got two more power play opportunities, and after a Chris Phillips interference penalty, they were able to capitalize. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa each had scoring chances during the man-advantage, but after Anderson made the saves the Senators tried to clear the zone. Richards made amends for his earlier mistake by keeping the speeding puck in the zone, and Brent Seabrook took advantage of a screen in front by Bryan Bickell to give the Hawks back the lead at 2-1.
Both teams had power plays in the late stages of the period, but neither side could convert. Darling made a good save to conclude the period, but in spite of outshooting the Senators 17-5, they only held a one goal lead on the scoreboard.
In the third period, the Senators were the team that got off to the good start on offense, with Erik Karlsson ripping several shots in on Darling during the late stages of their power play. Darling made both saves and kept his team in front by making four total on the penalty kill.
As the period went on, the Senators continued to fire away at Darling, but most of the opportunities were one-and-done affairs. Kyle Turris ripped a high shot that Darling had to shoulder away , and Clarke MacAarthur had a good chance as well, but to no avail.
With the game clock ticking down, the Senators tried to pull Anderson from the net with about a minute and a half remaining, but they weren’t able to get him to the bench right away. Sharp had a lot to do with that, picking up two high quality scoring chances, and the Senators didn’t do themselves any favors either as they iced the puck with 23 seconds to go in the game. Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad played an effective game of keep-away to milk the remaining time off the clock, and the Hawks secured a hard-fought victory.
The Blackhawks will next take the ice on Tuesday night when they welcome Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks to the United Center.