Hawks best in the west with 5-1 win over Sharks
In a match that pitted the best vs the best in the Western Conference, the audience at the United Center in Chicago should have went home very satisfied. The game was a speed vs speed game that was a battle of the titans in the West.
The difference was the Blackhawks control of the neutral zone and their transition game not only offensively but defensively as well. The Sharks never could quit keep pace with the Hawks transition game that saw four of the Hawks five goals coming off of the rush. Special teams was not a factor in this game as all of the goals were five on five scores with the exception of a penalty shot.
The Hawks had great body positioning and back checking off of the reverse rush as well. Their stick work was very good as well.
With this win the Hawks stand atop the Western Conference tied for the lead but with a game in hand over Anaheim. To say that this game was of great significance is an understatement. The Hawks and Hawk fans should be very happy with this win.
The game started fast right out of the gate as the pace was almost at a playoff level. The Hawks opened the scoring in the first period. Brandon Pirri was in the right place at the right time as he put the puck into an open net which, Shark goalie Antti Niemi had no chance on. Patrick Kane rushed along the far boards took a shot and rebounded right to Pirri on the near side past Niemi. The period ended seeing the Hawks lead 1-0 at intermission.
The Sharks did manage to tie the game with the sole tally from Joe Pavelski that appeared to be stopped by Corey Crawford’s glove but trickled out as it seemed to stun him and then trickled in behind him for a 1-1 tie.
In a goal similar to the Hawks first goal only this time it went from Marcus Kruger along the near boards to a wide open Patrick Sharp on the far side that again saw a wide open net that Niemi had no chance on. The play was made by a great hesitation move to free a passing lane by Kruger to the wide open Sharp shooter for the 2-1 lead.
The Hawks built to a crescendo in the third period where they scored three goals including one off of a penalty shot.
The period opened with Captain Jonathan Toews taking control and he did not score on his first shot but was able to follow – up his own shot as it lay to the far post and he was able to stuff it past Niemi for the 3-1 lead.
The fourth Blackhawks’ goal was generated by a very persistent Brandon Saad who never quit on the play. The play started and ended with Kris Versteeg, hello and welcome back Verbeauty. The play again developed due to transitioning. Kris Versteeg passed to Brandon Saad who shot and secured his own rebound and somehow found a wide open Versteeg to bury it past the Sharks’ goalie. 4-1
In the closing minutes of the game Patrick Sharp was sprung on a semi breakaway but was hauled down by Sharks’ Vlasic that saw the officials award a penalty shot. In a classic backhand – forehand roof glove side that was a beauty Patrick Sharp demonstrated by his nick name is shooter. That concluded the scoring and the game 5-1.
This was the type of near flawless game that the Hawks need to bring on the road with them as they now head out west for the next couple of weeks. Their next challenge the hot Colorado Avalanche as the Hawks would love to duplicate this game in Colorado. Colorado wants nothing better to dethrone the Cup champs so look for them to come out flying. If the Hawks transition game is as good as it was tonight the Avs will see why the Blackhawks are the defending champs.
Three Stars of the game:
1. Patrick Sharp
2. Brandon Pirri
3. Kris Versteeg
Next game Tuesday, November 19, at 8 p.m. CDT from Denver, CO Pepsi Center. Tune in to CSN in the Chicago; or listen via WGN 720.