Shaw Continues to Come Up Big for Hawks
It appears as though the Chicago Blackhawks are peaking at just the right time.
Chicago's 2-1 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks on Andrew Shaw's game-winning goal tonight marked their fifth win in a row, improving their record to 8-1-1 in their last ten games.
With the victory, the Blackhawks are now tied in points with Nashville for fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race, though the Predators have one more "Regulation Plus Overtime Wins" as the tie-breaker. However, the Blackhawks are currently only one point behind Detroit, but they would need two points on Sunday against Nashville and a Red Wings loss on Saturday to claim fourth place.
The Blackhawks played one of their most solid and complete efforts all season as they downed the Canucks for just the second time this season. A rejuvenated Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 24 Vancouver shots, some of which were significant momentum saves for Chicago. Crawford has now won five games in a row and has only allowed five goals over that span.
Early on, it looked as though the Hawks were in for a long night when Canucks forward Jannick Hansen scored his 15th goal of the season when he used his lightning speed to blow past Johnny Oduya along the outside to fire a shot that beat Crawford on the far side to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead less than thirty seconds in.
But despite that early blow to the Blackhawks, they showed little signs of caving in. They out-shot Vancouver 12-6 in the first period and as they did throughout the entire game, maintained strong puck possession. That coupled with solid goaltending from Crawford allowed the Hawks plenty of time and opportunity to climb back into the game.
And that's just what they did.
Patrick Kane, who has been scorching hot of late, extremely fortunate due to the continuous absence of Jonathan Toews, read the play perfectly as Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa worked the puck along the boards behind the net, Hossa fired a shot on net from a sharp angle and Kane pounced on the rebound near the slot to stuff it home and tie the game at one about three minutes into the second period.
The Blackhawks absolutely dominated the Canucks offensively in the second period, outshooting them 11-3. That would not last, though, as Vancouver came out with fire in the third, providing Crawford with some serious scoring chances to stop.
Chicago was able to put the game away less than three minutes into overtime when Dave Bolland picked up a loose puck, brought it into the Canucks' zone and fed Johnny Oduya with a pass as he joined the rush. Oduya fired a shot on net in the high slot and Andrew Shaw tipped it in for his 11th goal of the season.
Chicago received exactly what they needed from their key contributors to win the game. Crawford was strong in net, Kane had a clutch performance with his game-tying goal and Oduya and Shaw converted a difficult scoring chance that proved to be too much for Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo to handle.
It's now very possible the Blackhawks could finish as high as fourth place if they continue to play with this energy and mindset. Whatever funk they were in the last few months has seemingly faded away as they approach the most important part of the season and prepare to head into the playoffs.
Just imagine what this team could do when you throw Captain Serious back into the mix.