The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks engaged in a battle of goaltending and defense on Tuesday night, but one mistake was all it took to cost the home side as Devante Smith-Pelly’s short-handed goal in the third period gave Anaheim a 1-0 victory.
The Blackhawks outshot the Ducks by a 38-25 margin, but it wasn’t enough as they lost in regulation for the third time in four games. Scott Darling made 24 saves in his second career start, but he was overshadowed by an impressive shutout effort by Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.
Both teams were slow to get going in the first minutes of the game, and not even coincidental minors to Hampus Lindholm and Andrew Shaw could open things up. Neither team got a shot on goal in the four-on-four situation, and the game remained scoreless as the period hit the midway point.
With about five minutes remaining in the period, the Ducks got their first power play of the night when Corey Perry and Bryan Bickell got tied up. The Ducks picked up three good scoring chances on the man-advantage, with Sami Vatanen firing two shots in on Darling, but the Hawks were able to turn away the chances and keep the game scoreless as the period came to an end.
When the second period got underway, the Blackhawks’ play on both sides of the ice really picked up. Jeremy Morin made his impact felt in the early going, backchecking a puck away from the Ducks in the neutral zone and creating a chance in the offensive end. Brandon Saad also got two great chances when he skated in on a breakaway, but Gibson was able to stop both shots and keep the game tied up.
Even a power play wasn’t enough to get the Blackhawks’ offensive struggles to end, but when the Ducks returned to even strength, the Hawks continued to fire away. Andrew Shaw had a great chance in close that was stopped by Gibson, and Patrick Kane got a rebound chance that barely missed the net. Later in the period, Patrick Sharp chipped in a shot on net that Gibson blocked away, and Trevor van Riemsdyk’s follow-up sailed just wide.
In the third period, Gibson opened things up by absolutely robbing Jonathan Toews on a one-timer. Bryan Bickell put the pass in a perfect spot, but Gibson was able to make the big save when he needed to.
The two teams continued to trade occasional chances until about the halfway point of the period when the Hawks went on the power play. The Hawks got a few good chances on the man-advantage, but everything came crumbling down when Brent Seabrook fell down at the blue line. Smith-Pelley took advantage of the miscue by scoring on the ensuing breakaway, beating Darling and giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
With two and a half minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks got one final power play chance, and Darling was pulled for an extra attacker. Despite the man-advantage, the Hawks were able to muster just two shots on goal, and Gibson fought them both off to preserve the shutout victory.
The Blackhawks will look to take their minds off the loss when they head north to take on the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.