Ducks Win 3-2, Hand Blackhawks Third Straight Loss

Versteeg and Smith both score for the Hawks as they fall in a shootout

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 After a back-and-forth contest that the Chicago Blackhawks were able to tie up twice, the Anaheim Ducks used shootout goals from Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri to knock off the Hawks 3-2 on Friday night at the United Center.

Ben Smith and Kris Versteeg had goals for the Hawks, and Antti Raanta made 24 saves in what can only be described as an inconsistent effort in net for Chicago.

The first period started out a bit on the slow side, with Brandon Bollig getting the first good chance of the game in front of the Anaheim net. That shot was stopped by Jonas Hiller, and just a short time later, the Ducks thanked their goaltender with a goal of their own. After the Hawks failed to clear the zone, Cam Fowler collected the puck and shoveled it over to Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf’s shot ended up deflecting off of Corey Perry’s stick, and just like that it was 1-0 Ducks.

Fortunately for Hawks fans, their team responded right away. Versteeg grabbed the puck on the zone entry, and tried to push it back to Patrick Kane. Kane ended up getting a small piece of it, and Smith, coming in as the trailer on the play, put a shot on net that somehow ended up going between Hiller’s leg pads, and the horn sounded as the Hawks knotted things up 1-1.

Later in the period, the Hawks got a power play opportunity, but it was actually the Ducks that got the majority of the chances. They ended up with four short-handed shots on that power play, with Perry picking up three of them in a row after Raanta mishandled a puck in the crease, but fortunately for him Marian Hossa was there to help keep the puck out of the net, and the Hawks escaped without any damage as the period wound down.

When the second period began, both teams seemed to have difficulty in controlling the puck. Neither team was able to put a shot on goal in the first five minutes of the frame, but then the scoring chances came in bunches.

Jeremy Morin put an excellent shot on Hiller that the Swiss goaltender was barely able to stop, and then Teemu Selanne carried the puck back down the ice and got a tremendous chance of his own. He made a nice move to get Raanta to commit to the near post, and he put the shot in between Raanta’s leg pads. The Hawks caught a break when the shot clanged off the post, and the game remained tied at 1-1.

When Johnny Oduya was whistled for a delay of game penalty in the second period, the Ducks were able to grab the lead back. Getzlaf got a pass out at the blue line, took a few strides in, and fired a low shot that barely went in between Raanta’s pads, and when the puck trickled into the net, the Ducks had a 2-1 lead.

Late in that second period, the Blackhawks picked up a power play of their own, and they were able to return the favor in the closing seconds of that man-advantage situation. Hossa found Versteeg in front of the net with a great pass, but Versteeg’s initial shot was saved by Hiller. Fortunately for him, the puck bounced right back to him, and Versteeg’s second attempt found the back of the net, and the Hawks tied things up at 2-2 as the second period came to an end.

The third period started out well for the Ducks, as they were able to get some serious pressure on Raanta early and often. Fortunately for the rookie, he was able to make some tremendous saves, including one on an aggressive shot from Getzlaf in the slot that he was able to kick away with his leg pad despite having to fight through traffic in front of the crease.

Perhaps embracing the “whatever you can do I can do better” mentality, Hiller turned around and made a tremendous save of his own as Hossa found Patrick Sharp near the crease with a pass, and Sharp’s shot ended up getting pushed aside on a great reaction from Hiller as the puck came up high.

After each team picked up a couple more decent chances, Raanta once again seized the upper hand in the goaltending battle. After losing his stick behind the net, Raanta watched helplessly as Nick Leddy failed twice to clear the puck, but then the Hawks’ goaltender stood tall on a Matt Beleksey shot on net, and he absorbed the shot to end the play and to the delight of the United Center crowd.

In the late stages of the period, both teams had chances to capitalize on turnovers, but neither opportunity was converted. Ben Lovejoy had a shot deflected after Versteeg lost the puck at center ice, and when Perry gave up a similar turnover, it was Sharp who brought it down ice for the Hawks, shooting it just wide of Hiller to keep the game tied at 2-2.

That is where the score remained through the end of regulation, with neither team getting any good chances in the closing minutes. Dustin Penner did pick up a 10-minute misconduct penalty for firing a slapshot off the boards after being whistled for an offsides, but other than those fireworks, nothing was going for either team.

The overtime period opened up with a sterling chance for the Hawks as they got a 2-on-1 rush with Kane and Toews heading in. Kane’s pass did find Toews on the rush, but Hiller was there to make a sliding save, and the Hawks couldn’t convert on the opportunity.

The Ducks turned the other way and ended up getting an insane opportunity, and it looked like they had converted on it as Mark Fistric tapped home a rebound, but the officials immediately blew the play dead. Goaltender interference was the ruling, but the Hawks caught a massive break as replay revealed that it was Brent Seabrook who initiated the contact by shoving Saku Koivu into Raanta, and the game continued after the controversial call.

At the other end, Saad got a great breakaway opportunity, but some really good defense by the Ducks prevented him from getting a shot on net, and despite the crowd’s pleas for a penalty shot, the officials were not willing to give him one.

Both teams did get a few more quality chances, with Kane getting denied by Hiller at the last second of the overtime, and the game headed to a shootout. Toews netted a goal on the first shot of the skills competition, but Raanta ended up ceding that advantage right back as a mishandled shot by Nick Bonino somehow got under Raanta and into the cage, and the shootout ended up in a 1-1 tie.

After Sharp was stymied by Hiller on the second shot of the shootout, Kyle Palmieri made a nice deke to beat Raanta to give Anaheim a 2-1 advantage. When Kane was stopped by Hiller at the other end, the game came to an abrupt end, and the Hawks were handed their third consecutive defeat.

Chicago will look to end its winless streak on Sunday night when they play host to Jimmy Hayes and the Florida Panthers at the United Center.

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