Hawks find their game as they down the Maple Leafs 3-1
On an emotional night for several reasons, the Blackhawks finally found the game that they have been looking for so far this young season. They played a solid two-way game, got their offense going, utilized their team speed, and dictated the game.
The game was a Hockey Fights Cancer night, and could not have opened more emotionally when the Blackhawks took five local area children who are all battling cancer on the blue line with them during the national anthems.
There was also an honorary puck drop with one of the children between Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane, with both gentlemen giving their sticks to the nine-year old and reminding us all that there are continuing battles that we all need to continue to fight. Items that were worn in the game will be sold on the Blackhawks' website, with the proceeds going to cancer research, so we can all join in the fight.
The game was also a reunion for two players. David Bolland came back to the Madhouse, and was honored with a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Blackhawks' faithful. Can anyone remember Bolly smiling more?
The other reunion was Michael Kostka facing his old teammates on the Toronto Maple Leafs. It must have agreed with him, because he scored his first NHL goal midway through the second period.
The games opening period was scoreless and saw a lot of penalties taken as special teams dominated. The Hawks took three penalties in the first period but kept the Leafs scoreless, as their penalty kill is starting to look like last year's.
The second period saw all the scoring. The Hawks first goal came off of the stick of Bryan Bickell, his first of this season. In an exercise of incredible patience, Bickell got Leafs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier down, and was able to put the puck in behind him on the near side. Assists went to Shaw & Kruger.
Michael Kostka got the Hawks second goal from the slot on a beauty of a pass from Brandon Pirri, who was along the far boards and found Kostka open in the middle. Just like that, it was 2-1 Blackhawks.
Brandon Pirri was feeling it so much he got a goal for himself to go along with his assist, and it was a power play goal as well. Brandon Saad had the assist on the nice pass that Pirri tipped in past Bernier. If Pirri heats up like he did in the AHL as their leading scorer, the NHL needs to look out. Pirri has a knack for finding open ice.
Nick Leddy had a solid game as he had two assists on the Pirri & Kosta goals.
Corey Crawford was solid in net and had to stay alert as he was not too busy all night. One did get in, with a fluky bounce past Oduya on a bang-bang play to Nazem Kadri for the Leafs; it was a solo tally on a power play that tied the game at one each.
The Blackhawks played a solid defensive game and dictated the pace of the game, but this time they were able to close just as strong, maybe stronger, than they started. Their positioning was top notch and they had active sticks all game, and they did not give up many threats on Crawford. The transition game through the neutral zone was flawless, and the Leafs could not match their speed through the neutral zone.
Coach Quenneville and the team should be happy with this game and the results. They will take to the road and look to continue this solid team game when they face some old friends in Florida.
Three Stars of the game:
1. Brandon Pirri
2. Nick Leddy
3. Brandon Saad
Next game Tuesday, October 22, at 6:30 p.m. CDT in Florida. Tune in to CSN in the Chicago; or listen via WGN 720. In Florida, watch on FS-F or listen to radio 560 WQAM.