Blackhawks spread holiday cheer with 5-1 win over Canadiens
For the second time in as many nights the Blackhawks were facing a little known opponent from the Eastern Conference. Not just any team from the east either, but the fabled Le Club de hockey Canadien or better known as the Montreal Canadiens were in the United Center. While these are not exactly the Flying Frenchmen of old, the Canadiens still have plenty of speed to make your head dizzy.
The Blackhawks were coming off of an incredible third period against the Penguins in Pittsburgh and hoping to keep their high flying offence in gear. Cory Crawford in the nets felt like a really good get together with an old friend you haven’t seen maybe since college. Carey Price getting the night off saw Peter Budaj in the nets for the Habs.
Oh the comforts of the United Center and hearing Jim Cornelison there is nothing like it. After a grueling game in Pittsburgh it was good to have the Hawks home. My only concern was that the Hawks did not take the Canadiens (13-14-7) lightly as they are sitting last in the Northeast division. I was looking for better defense and a full sixty minute game from the Blackhawks and fewer penalties this game. I got everything I wanted and more. Also with Pirri in the lineup at center I was looking for more face-off wins this game because that bite them in the Penguins game.
The first period in this game was the complete opposite from the night before in Pittsburgh. The Hawks continued with some problem clearing the puck from their own zone but got away with it as Montreal could not cash in. There was one penalty in the period on the Hawks but they killed it off successfully and the period ended scoreless. Period was pretty even SOG 7 each FO won 9 each hit were 14-3 Canadiens. Hawks have been getting out hit and need to ramp it up cleanly.
The second period saw the Hawks apply a little more pressure in the Canadiens end but nothing sustained. Frolik committed unintentional goaltender interference which resulted in a Canadien power-play goal with a tip in from Kostitsyn 1-0 Canadiens.
Then finally hard work paid off with strong fore-checking from Kane, Brunette and Toews. Toews was causing all kinds of havoc in front of goalie Budaj. Officially the goal was Brunette from Kane and Seabrook.Hawks tied 1-1. Then just 21 seconds later Patrick Sharp got a beautiful cross ice pass from Hossa and we know Sharp knows how to wrist one past goalies and that is what he did 2-1 Blackhawks. The second period saw a much better period for the Hawks. I’ve got to give props to Crawford with an insane save with his paddle to keep the score still 2-1 Hawks and was probably the turning point in the game. Had the Habs scored they would have tied the game and gained momentum.
The final period saw Montreal with 23 seconds of power-play which was killed off by the Hawks with no scoring. Well it’s not a combo you hear every night but Bickell to red hot Stalberg who beat Budaj stick side 3-1 Blackhawks. The play was made with the hard work by Bickell. The third period was all Hawks with solid defensive efforts from Keith and Seabrook who were on ice for two of the Hawks three goals. There was also a solid back-checking effort by the forwards. In the final minutes of the game Toews got an empty netter 4-1 Hawks. Then we had another Stalberg to Bickell team up this time with Bickell beating Budaj 5-1 Hawks.
I have to categorize this one as a complete team game and win. It was a solid performance from Corey Crawford who stopped 20 of 21 shots on goal and .952 Sv%. Welcome back Crow. The third period is where the Blackhawks pulled away from the Habs and controlled play with three goals; SOG 9-3 and FO even at 28. The Hawks now get rest for four days and to enjoy the holidays. With this great win Blackhawks fan get to enjoy the holidays too afterall, it is the season of cheer.
Three stars of the game – 3) Sharp 2) Brunette 1) Crawford
Hawks next play again Monday night @ the UC vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets which can be caught on CSN or WGN Radio 720
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