Sharp Shootout Score Sends Hawks to 5-4 Win

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The Chicago Blackhawks coughed up a third period lead, but thanks to two points from Marian Hossa (including a third period goal that represented the 1000th point of his NHL career) and a shootout goal by Patrick Sharp they were still able to emerge with a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.

Jonathan Toews scored twice in the game for the Blackhawks, and Kris Versteeg scored his second goal of the season as they opened up their two-game road trip with a victory.

Despite some early pressure by the Blackhawks, it was Ottawa that got on the board first. Cody Ceci fired a transition pass up the ice to Mark Stone, and when Curtis Lazar put a shot toward the goal, Stone was able to redirect it in between Scott Darling’s leg pads, and the Senators seized a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.

The Blackhawks responded well to the goal as they continued to press the tempo, and they got a power play as a result. Andrew Shaw made a silly mistake and was sent to the box to end that man-advantage situation, but Chicago still got a couple more chances on goal in the ensuing 4-on-4 action. Duncan Keith’s centering pass to Ben Smith was tipped up as it crossed the ice, and Craig Anderson made a nice glove save to keep his team in front.

After another unsuccessful power play in the middle stages of the period, the Blackhawks continued to get chances, and they eventually scored to tie things up. With Toews crashing the net, Hossa ripped a shot in toward Anderson. The puck found its way through a sea of skates onto Toews’ stick, and he forced it across the goal line to make it a 1-1 game with about eight minutes remaining in the period.

Four minutes later, the Blackhawks took the lead on a spectacular goal by Versteeg. Erik Karlsson made a nice play to deny Versteeg on his initial rush, but the forward didn’t give up. Making a nifty move to get around Karlsson, Versteeg got in alone on Anderson and made a nice deke before popping the puck into the open net to make it a 2-1 lead for the Hawks.

As the second period got underway, the Hawks kept giving the Senators chances, and the home side happily obliged by scoring to tie things up on an early power play. After receiving a pass from David Legwand, Clarke MacArthur made a smart decision to drive through an open seam to the net, and he was able to force a shot past Darling to tie things up at 2-2 just under three minutes into the frame.

With the period wearing on, both sides continued to trade quality scoring chances. Jeremy Morin and Bryan Bickell looked to have a sure goal a few minutes after the MacArthur tally, but Anderson was able to make an excellent save. MacArthur then fed a pass in front of the net to Bobby Ryan, but the winger’s deflection sailed just wide. Versteeg then pushed a pass across to a streaking Morin at the other end, but Anderson once again kicked out his leg pad to make an excellent stop.

Late in the period the Blackhawks got another power play, but they were once again unable to capitalize. Keith fired a high shot off Anderson’s blocker early in the sequence, and Seabrook whistled in a tough shot as well, but the Hawks were kept off the board as the game remained tied through two periods.

Early in the third period, some sloppy puck-handling by the Blackhawks cost them a goal. Bryan Bickell was the guiltiest of the parties involved, blindly passing the puck into the middle of the ice. It ended up directly on Ryan’s stick blade, and the sniper lived up to his reputation by ripping a shot past Darling to give Ottawa a 3-2 advantage.

After killing off two straight penalties, the Blackhawks finally were able to right the ship and tie the game with 12:30 remaining in the contest. Seabrook got things started when he hit a low slap shot toward the net, and it bounced off of Toews’ skate. While it was unclear whether Toews hit the puck with a kicking motion, that argument was rendered moot as the captain was able to tap a shot in with his stick to tie things up at 3-3.

Morin went to the box just a few seconds after the goal, but the Hawks were able to kill off the penalty. Seizing on that successful kill, the Hawks generated more momentum and eventually scored with six minutes to go. When Versteeg won a puck battle in behind the Ottawa net, he was able to muscle a pass to Hossa on the other side of the cage. Hossa quickly jumped out and snuck in a wraparound shot past Anderson’s left skate, and in the blink of an eye the Hawks led by a goal.

Unfortunately for Hossa, his 1000th career point didn’t end up as the difference in the contest. With the Blackhawks scrambling to re-establish their defensive zone coverage, Mika Zibnaejad picked up the puck in the middle of the ice and rifled a shot past Darling to tie the game at 4-4 with two minutes remaining.

Neither team was able to score in the final minutes of regulation, and the Hawks opened up the overtime period strong. Patrick Kane had a couple of good opportunities, but neither of them went in. They did get a power play late in overtime, but nothing evaded Anderson as the Senators forced a shootout.

The first five shooters in the skills competition came and went without anyone scoring a goal, but Patrick Sharp finally ended it on the Hawks’ third attempt. His deke sent Anderson sprawling to the ice, and Sharp simply lifted a shot up over Anderson and under the crossbar to give the Hawks the victory.

Chicago will look to finish off a perfect road trip through eastern Canada when they tangle with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at 6pm.

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