The Chicago Blackhawks, losers of four of their last five games, used two goals by Marian Hossa to knock off the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Friday night.
The Ducks, who had won 18 of their previous 19 games coming into the contest, got a stellar effort from Jonas Hiller, who stopped 32 shots on the evening. Corey Crawford picked up 19 saves for the Hawks in his first victory since November 27th, and Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell picked up goals in the win.
In what would quickly become a theme of the evening, the Blackhawks started out with a lot of push in their game, and they got some chances early on. Hossa especially looked good out of the gate, as he peppered Hiller with shots. Nick Leddy also got a nice chance on a rush toward the net, but he was hauled down and the Hawks got an early power play.
That man-advantage chance was snuffed out after about a minute however, as Andrew Shaw was sent to the box for interference. After a nice play by Niklas Hjalmarsson though, the Blackhawks picked up a short-handed tally, as Hossa skated up the ice, faked a pass to Jonathan Toews, and ripped a shot past Hiller to put Chicago up 1-0.
As the first period wore on, the Blackhawks continued to push the tempo, with the top line doing most of the heavy lifting. The third line, just a game removed from “losing the trust” of Joel Quenneville, also had a great opening period, and they rewarded for their hard work quickly. Grabbing the puck along the goal line, Versteeg ended up losing the puck twice, but he was able to collect it both times and flipped a backhanded shot past Hiller’s right pad to extend the Hawks lead to 2-0 toward the end of the first period.
A late first period penalty by the Hawks didn’t amount to much from the Ducks, and the second period began with a lot of back and forth action. After a Teemu Selanne penalty, the Hawks did cough up a 2-on-1 rush, but Crawford was able to stop Nick Bonino. Ryan Getzlaf also ended up in the box to give the Hawks a brief 5-on-3, but the Ducks were able to kill off both penalties, holding the Blackhawks to just two shots on goal over the following two minutes and change.
Late in the second, the Ducks committed another penalty when Cam Fowler cross-checked Ben Smith of the corner of the offensive zone, but in spite of some good puck movement, the Hawks were held off the board again. In spite of the prolific power play failures, the Hawks outshot the Ducks 11-3 in the period, and held a 3-2 lead after the second period buzzer sounded.
The Blackhawks came out of the gate strong in the third period, with Patrick Kane getting the period’s first high quality chance as he toe-dragged the puck through the slot. After evading a Ducks’ defenseman, Kane fired a shot just wide of the net, and an audible groan went through the United Center crowd. Just a few moments later, Smith led another rush into the zone, but Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy was able to break it up with a diving play.
Crawford made a couple of big saves in a row on Jakob Silfverberg and Perry in succession, and that momentum from the saves ended up paying off in a big way just a few minutes later. Bickell muscled his way through the Anaheim defense, and somehow protected the puck on the rush before putting a shot on Hiller. The puck hit the goaltender’s arm, and as he tried to grab the puck with his glove, he knocked it into his own net, and the Hawks took what looked to be a safe 3-0 lead.
The Ducks were not done yet however. Niklas Hjalmarsson tried to pass the puck to the middle of the offensive zone, and it was intercepted by the Ducks. Getzlaf took advantage of the ensuing 3-on-1 rush and fired a shot near side on Crawford, pulling the Ducks to within 3-1. Just 53 seconds later, Kyle Palmieri came into the offensive zone and scored again, firing a shot in between Crawford’s pads to make it 3-2 Blackhawks with just five minutes left in the game.
A few minutes later, the Ducks had a couple more great opportunities, but it was Brandon Saad who ended up bailing his team out. Crawford lost his footing along the side of the net, but Saad jumped out and pushed the puck out of the zone and ended up getting a chance at the other end thanks to his aggressive play.
As the clock wound down, the Hawks were finally able to force the puck out of the zone after a concerted Anaheim push, and it was Hossa who was able to shed the check and push the puck into the empty net goal to give the Blackhawks a 4-2 victory over Anaheim.
The Hawks will next take the ice on Sunday morning when they engage in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final when they battle the Boston Bruins at the United Center.