Blackhawks scratch a point out of the Devils in the shootout
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford spoke of New Jersey goalie Marty Brodeur before the game. The future-HHOF goalie had been one of Crawford's idols when he was growing up in Montréal; the idea of one day growing up and playing against him was a seemingly impossible thing. But here he was, ready to take the ice vs. Brodeur.
Brodeur was drafted in 1990. He got his first call ups to the NHL during the 1991-92 season. To compare how long he's been in the NHL, Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw was born in July 1991. He owns just about every goalie record in the NHL, and #30 will be retired in New Jersey the second he decides he's done playing. But until that day comes, he's still the Devils' netminder, and, like the Blackhawks, NJ is sixth in their conference and fighting to hold on to a playoff position. Wednesday night in New Jersey, Brodeur stole a win for his team, as he has done many times before.
The game started with with the Blackhawks looking a little sloppy, but the two teams went scoreless for most of the first before Petr Sykora managed a PPG at 15:42 in the first, when Chicago got caught on a bad line change.
Starting in the second, Chicago found their footing and began playing much more strongly. The Blackhawks limited the Devils to just 22 SOG in the game, but at the other end of the ice, Brodeur got peppered with 38. Brodeur was up to his HOF form, however, making some remarkable saves to keep his team in the game. He was close to gaining his 119th career shutout when a booming Brent Seabrook shot evened the scoring at 8:34 in the third.
Brodeur famously likes to play the puck, and with less than 6 minutes left in the game, he blasted a clearing pass up center ice. Marcus Kruger intercepted it and snapped it back towards the NJ goal; but Brodeur made a remarkable glove save on the shot.
The teams battled it out for the rest of the third before going into overtime.
It took five rounds of a shoot out to determine a winner; New Jersey won with a tally by Travis Zajac, 2-1.
Defenseman Steve Montador had his first game back after missing more than 20 games with a concussion, and he played just 4:20 in a fourth-line forward role. Tops in ice time for Chicago were Johnny Oduya at 29:56 and Brent Seabrook at 29:50. Defenseman Duncan Keith still has 3 games remaining on his suspension and will return for Chicago's final two games, road contests against the Wild and Red Wings. Marcus Kruger also returned to play, but team captain Jonathan Toews remains out of the lineup.
After being pulled in the previous game vs. Nashville, in front of Hall of Fame goalie Ed Belfour on his heritage night in Chicago, it must have come as a relief to Corey Crawford to have played so well against one of his childhood idols. He hasn't often been allowed to start the next game after a bad loss, but regular backup goalie Ray Emery is out with an "upper body injury", so rookie call up Carter Hutton was in for back up in New Jersey.
"Some of the saves (Brodeur) made, I don't think I'd ever think of doing that," Crawford said after the game. "He definitely made some huge saves there.... It was pretty cool to play against him, but it would have been nicer to beat him."
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The Blackhawks took a vital point out of the game and stand at 93 points in the Western Conference. They remain in sixth place, 6 points ahead of Dallas (7th place/83 points) and Phoenix (8th place/83 points); and 3 points behind Nashville (5th place/96 points). if the playoffs started today, the Blackhawks would currently face off vs. San Jose, but due to the volatility of the Pacific divisional race, the 3rd place team may change by the end of the season.
Their next game is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. CDT vs the St. Louis Blues in Chicago.