First period goals by Brad Richards and Andrew Shaw set the tone, and Patrick Kane added two more tallies as the Chicago Blackhawks started their swing through southern California with a bang in a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Friday afternoon.
Corey Crawford made 23 saves in the game, and Kris Versteeg notched two assists as the Hawks won for the fourth time in five circus trip games. Hampus Lindholm scored the lone Anaheim goal, and Frederik Andersen made 34 saves in a losing effort for the Ducks.
The game started out well for the Blackhawks, as they established possession early and pushed the tempo hard against the Ducks. The Hawks’ blue liners were especially involved, with Johnny Oduya getting a good chance that Andersen stopped and Hjalmarsson barely missing the net on a shot of his own.
That pressure finally paid off about eight minutes into the game as the Hawks scored on a 2-on-1 rush. Brent Seabrook made the whole play happen with a tremendous transition pass through the neutral zone, and when the Anaheim defender cut off the passing lane for Richards, he instead ripped a shot between Andersen’s leg pads and gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks continued to move the puck around the ice effectively over the next several minutes, and it was that passing ability that directly led to another goal for Chicago. Daniel Carcillo got the puck near the boards, and he tossed a pass to Duncan Keith to get things started. Shaw cut across the front of the net, and when Keith fired a pass over to him, he deflected it past Andersen and into the empty cage to extend Chicago’s lead to two goals.
After that goal, the Blackhawks dialed back the offensive pressure a bit, and the Ducks took full advantage as they scored with about three minutes remaining in the first period. Ryan Kesler got things started when he tossed a pass to Patrick Maroon (while absorbing a huge hit from Hjalmarsson), and while Crawford did make the save on Maroon’s shot, the rebound caromed off of the glass behind the net and Lindholm whacked it out of midair and into the cage to make it a 2-1 game.
The second period started out with both teams exchanging scoring opportunities, but even though the Hawks got an early power play, they couldn’t convert. Kane had a great chance from in close on Eriksen, but the goaltender made one of his best saves of the day to knock the puck away. Richards also had a late chance on the man-advantage, but he couldn’t convert as Anaheim kept the deficit at one goal.
About halfway through the period, the Blackhawks once again used some excellent passing to give themselves a key insurance goal. Richards made a nice play to whack the puck away from two rushing Anaheim defensemen, and Versteeg got it behind the goal. The forward then flipped a no-look pass back to the front of the net, and a wide open Kane one-timed a shot past Andersen to extend their lead to 3-1.
Over the final 10 minutes of the frame, the Blackhawks had several more opportunities to put the game out of reach, but Andersen made more big saves. Marcus Kruger had three chances from within 15 feet of the net during one stretch, but he was turned away at every opportunity.
In the closing seconds of the frame, the Blackhawks had a scary moment as Johnny Oduya was drilled in the head along the boards by Kyle Palmieri. The Ducks forward was given a game misconduct for the hit, but the Hawks were whistled for too many men in the ensuing fracas.
The third period started out with the Ducks dominating a two-minute long 4-on-4 session, getting two solid shots on goal against Crawford, but the Hawks’ goaltender made both saves. The Blackhawks then got three minutes of power play time, but Andersen made three saves of his own (including an excellent one on Kane) to keep his team down by two goals.
The period continued with both teams getting decent shots on goal, but the Ducks continued to struggle in getting any shots toward goal. Frustration likely boiled over for Anaheim with about a minute and a half remaining in the game when Marian Hossa was drilled with a cross-check to the kidneys by Corey Perry. There was no penalty called on the play, but the Hawks made Anaheim pay anyway as Kane tallied an empty netter 20 seconds later to make it a 4-1 game.
The Blackhawks will look to finish off the circus trip on a winning note Saturday night as they take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.