Patrick Sharp scored his first goal of the season and added a shootout tally, and Marian Hossa picked up his second goal of the young campaign as the Chicago Blackhawks knocked off the Carolina Hurricanes by a 3-2 margin in the shootout on Tuesday night.
Corey Crawford made 32 saves in the game's first 65 minutes and stopped all three shots in the shootout as the Hawks moved to 4-1-1 on the season.
The game started out with some great early chances for the Hawks, buoyed by the outstanding play of the team’s third line of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Joakim Nordstrom. The trio aggressively pursued the puck in all areas of the ice, and generated a good number of scoring chances in the early going. They also had some great netfront presence, and really caused Ward some headaches in the first period as he tried to move out of his crease a bit to get through the traffic in front.
Despite their efforts, it wasn’t the third line that struck first, but rather the second line, as Sharp scored on a great breakaway goal to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. On the play, Michal Handzus flipped a beautiful pass up the ice that Sharp was able to corral, and despite a rolling puck Sharp roofed a shot over the glove of Ward for his 200th career goal.
The Blackhawks struck again at the conclusion of a power play in that period, with Hossa firing a back-hand shot off the near post and into the net to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. The play started with Shaw executing a picture perfect stick lift to prevent the Hurricanes from clearing the zone, and when Saad slapped the puck onto Hossa’s stick in the middle of the ice, the Hawks’ veteran forward didn’t miss, and the air really went out of the Hurricanes’ barn after the play.
Despite that great effort in the first period, the Hawks ended up on their heels a bit as the second wore on. The Hurricanes got some tremendous chances, and really started to move the puck much better through the neutral zone. Fortunately for Chicago, Crawford was once again up to the task, as he was during the later stages of the team’s game against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. In that second period, Crawford ended up with 14 saves, and the Hawks even got a nice late flurry to keep Ward guessing. The period ended with the Hawks still maintaining a 2-0 lead.
The Hawks got off to a great start to the third period, as the team’s second line continued its solid play. Handzus floated another pass into the offensive zone, this time finding Hossa wide open in front of the Hurricanes’ cage. Unfortunately for Hossa, he wasn’t able to fully corral the pass, and his shot ended up getting stopped by Ward.
The Canes ended up responding a few minutes later with a good possession in the offensive zone, and Alex Semin ended up putting home a shot off a rebound to make it a 2-1 hockey game. On the play, Semin ended up being Handzus off the punch from the boards, and he drifted unmarked into the zone and flipped the puck home to bring the crowd back into it.
The Blackhawks ended up getting a chance to get the goal back in short order, as Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey picked up a minor penalty. Unfortunately for Chicago, they couldn’t get any push going on the ensuing power play, and the game remained a 2-1 affair with the Hawks only picking up one shot on the man-advantage.
With about eight minutes left, the Hurricanes set up shop in the Chicago zone, and were peppering Crawford with shots. The Hawks’ netminder did a great job of making a couple of huge stops, but when Joakim Nordstrom turned the puck over along the boards, Hainsey ended up firing a shot from the point and it eluded Crawford to tie the game at 2-2. Crawford was without a stick on the final shot, and was visibly frustrated by the play.
On the same play, defenseman Michal Rozsival also was out of position at several intervals, and ended up screening Crawford, which likely led to his vexation after the play.
Rozsival’s awful third period continued after he committed a penalty late in the third, and sent the Hurricanes to yet another power play. Niklas Hjalmarsson had a great shift early on, blocking a shot and firing the puck out of the zone to kill off some time on the play, and Duncan Keith also did a tremendous job of snaring a pass in the middle of the ice to set up Jonathan Toews on a partial breakaway, but the captain was unable to finish the job. Brent Seabrook also lent himself into the proceedings, and cleared the puck away to finish off the penalty kill without the Hurricanes getting any quality chances.
The Hawks did pick up a couple more chances late in the game, but weren’t able to convert on any of them, and both teams ended up tied 2-2 as the period concluded. The overtime period started out with a hectic pace, as the Canes got a good scoring chance, which Kane transitioned into a partial breakaway that was stuffed by Ward out in front of the crease.
The teams continued to trade chances, but the Hurricanes were given a golden one with 2:30 left in the overtime when Bryan Bickell went to the penalty box on a hooking penalty. To complicate matters on the ensuing PK, Marcus Kruger ended up without a stick, but the Hurricanes let the Hawks off the hook with too many passes and ended up with a weak shot that Crawford easily smothered.
Despite that setback, and the successful kill by the Hawks, the Hurricanes weren't done yet, getting a couple more great chances that Crawford had to stop as the period wound down. Neither team scored in the overtime period, and the game went to a shootout.
The Hawks will next hit the ice on Thursday night when they engage in a Central Division battle with the St. Louis Blues at the United Center.