Hawks Can't Solve Schneider, Lose 3-2 in OT to Canucks
It was one of those teeth-grinding, frustrating type of overtime losses. The kind of loss that creeps into your subconscious just as you wake up the following morning, not just as a player, but as a fan.
The Chicago Blackhawks played well enough to decisively come away with two points against their heated rivals, the Vancouver Canucks. However, one major road-block stood in Chicago's way-
It was an evening of Ginger-thorns in their sides as Chicago saw their 30th victory slip away at the hands of Daniel Sedin's game-winning goal off a nice feed from twin-brother Henrik and a 37 save effort from "back-up" goaltender Schneider.
Ryan Kesler kicked off the scoring with a nice wrister that caught a piece of Blackhawks' Duncan Keith's stick and eluded Crawford on his left side to make it 1-0 midway through the first period.
Blackhawks newcomer, Brendan Morrison, started off shaky centering a line between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, but settled in later on to help create some solid chemistry with his new line mates, despite all three being held off the score sheet.
Jamal Mayers then scored his fourth goal of the season for the Hawks a few minutes later as his line mates got the puck in deep, and as Vancouver's defense attempted to recover, Mayers grabbed the lose puck in the slot and put it home to tie the game at 1-1.
For the next thirty minutes or so, the Blackhawks controlled a majority of the play, as both the offense and defense maintained an impressive rhythm with their puck possession. The Sharp, Hossa, Morrison line created some good scoring chances and Morrison nearly put the Hawks up as he stole the puck behind Vancouver's net, but a diving Schneider robbed Morrison of his first goal as a Blackhawk. It seemed, that Sharp and Toews return from injury did not have as much of an impact on the score sheet as one would hope.
Less than 2 minutes into the 3rd period, Kane and Toews worked the puck into the Canucks' zone and a streaking Viktor Stalberg crashed the net near the slot and directed a loose puck with a backhand past Schneider to put Chicago up 2-1.
But as we have seen all too often in Chicago's third periods, the Blackhawks defensive coverage began to get exposed by a speedy Canucks' forward corps, and Cody Hodgson made the Hawks pay with a breakaway goal that Corey Crawford had no chance in stopping about three minutes later.
And for about the remainder of the third period, Crawford was just about the only thing keeping the Blackhawks in the game. Chicago generated a few good scoring chances here and there, but it was evident that Schneider was not going to relent any time soon.
The Blackhawks got a meager number of additional scoring chances in overtime before Daniel Sedin won it with about 1 minute left for Vancouver.
Despite playing well enough to win, the Blackhawks remain at fourth place with the overtime loss in the Central Division, one point behind St. Louis, two points behind Nashville and five points behind leading Detroit.
It's becoming more and more apparent that the Blackhawks need an additional shutdown defenseman to take some minutes away from the Leddy/Hjalmarsson dumpster fire. Too often, this second pair gets exposed from playing too many minutes (Leddy more so than Hjalmarsson) and it continues to show.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman made a solid move to improve the Hawks depth at Center with the acquisition of Morrison. He's going to have to do something bold to land a decent mid-pair veteran defenseman, but it's becoming more and more necessary as we head into the last stages of the regular season.
The Blackhawks continue their nine-game road trip on Thursday, February 2nd when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. The game will be televised on CSN-Chicago at 8:30 pm CT.