The Edmonton Oilers didn’t make it easy, but the Chicago Blackhawks managed to hold on and win a 5-4 thriller at the United Center on Sunday night.
Without further adieu, here are Sunday’s Three Stars:
Third Star: Marcus Kruger
Over the course of the past few games, the Hawks have been getting some huge contributions from their star players, but several role players stole the show on Sunday night. Kruger was right at the forefront, scoring the go-ahead goal with eight minutes remaining in the game and going 9-for-15 in the faceoff dot in the game.
It was the way he scored his goal that really stood out though. On the play, Johnny Oduya was battling hard along the boards, and ended up flipping the puck back to Ben Smith near the bottom of the faceoff dot. Sensing the play developing, Kruger sprinted towards the net, and Smith found him right at the netmouth with a gorgeous pass. Kruger then showed some really quick hands and moved the puck to his forehand and tucked the shot in past Devan Dubnyk’s leg pad to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead.
Unfortunately for Kruger, his goal didn’t end up being the game winner thanks to Jordan Eberle’s short-handed goal late in the contest, but his effort definitely was a winning one .
Second Star: Andrew Shaw
Speaking of guys who are winning a way bigger chunk of face-offs this season, Shaw had another great day at the dot for the Hawks on Sunday. He won 10 draws out of the 16 he took, giving him a 62.5% success rate.
To add to that, Shaw also picked up two hits (although it seemed like he was throwing his weight around a lot more often than that) and scored a key goal for the Hawks on a beautiful rush in the second period. He teamed up with Brandon Saad on that play, and when Saad’s pass found Shaw’s stick, he did not miss, and tied things up at 2-2 late in the second period.
First Star: Brandon Saad
Saad’s effort wasn’t just limited to feeding the puck to Shaw either (although it was a tremendous pass). He also scored the Hawks’ first goal of the game late in the first period, and ended up with three shots on goal, a hit, two takeaways, and also won both face-offs he took for good measure in the winning effort.
His goal was a great representation of his tremendous hand-eye coordination, and elicited “ooh’s” and “aah’s” from the United Center crowd. After a great possession by the second line, Brandon Pirri’s shot ended up skipping back up the ice, and Saad whacked the puck out of midair past Dubnyk to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
The play evoked memories of Marian Hossa’s “drop it like it’s hot” goal from a few years back, and while it may not have had quite the same flair, it was still a sight to see.