Blackhawks Edge Canucks; Extend Points Streak to 16 Games
As the horn sounded to signal the end of regulation with the score knotted at three goals apiece, Chicago officially tied the NHL-record-holding 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks by starting the season with sixteen consecutive games without a regulation loss. That Anaheim squad lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup at season’s end, and dreams of a second parade in three years are surely dancing in the heads of Blackhawk fans across the state of Illinois tonight.
Chicago entered tonight’s shootout with a paltry 1-3 record in the skills competition this season, their only victory coming against the woeful Calgary Flames on February 2nd. With the two teams tied heading into the third round of the shootout, it was Andrew Shaw who would play hero to the hometown faithful, as he broke straight in on Canucks netminder Corey Schneider with tremendous speed, going forehand-to-backhand with the puck before roofing it over the hapless goaltender.
After Shaw’s tally it was Blackhawks goalkeeper Ray Emery who shut the door on Canucks shooter Ryan Kesler with a gorgeous glove save to seal Chicago’s thirteenth win of the season. In addition to his two saves on three chances in the shootout, Emery recorded 29 saves on 32 shots and improved his record to 6-0-0 on the year.
Though Vancouver would open the scoring in the first period, it was all Chicago in the second as the Blackhawks potted three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead into the final frame of regulation.
Patrick Sharp tied the game at one on a blistering slap shot from just inside the left point on a slick touch pass from Patrick Kane. Sharp’s fourth goal of the season skittered along the ice and burst through the wickets of Schneider just over six-and-half minutes into the period.
The Hawks would take the lead later in the period on a power play goal by Marian Hossa, his seventh of the season. While on their third man advantage of the game, Chicago defensemen Johnny Oduya and Duncan Keith cycled the puck up high around a stickless Ryan Kesler before dishing a cross-ice feed to the tape of Hossa, who rocketed a shot past Schneider to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
Hossa took the puck out of the corner and walked it out in front of Schneider as Saad drew the defenders back into the slot to protect against a potential pass. The man they call Hoss then shielded the puck around Schneider and used his tremendous reach to tuck his second goal of the game and eighth of the season around the hopelessly outstretched pad of the overmatched Vancouver netminder, giving Chicago a 3-1 lead and sending the 21,423 in attendance into an absolute frenzy.
Less than a minute into the third period a collision between Hossa and Canucks forward Jannik Hansen sent the Blackhawks goal-scorer sprawling to the ice. Replays showed that Hansen's forearm collided with the back of Hossa's head as they both jumped for a fluttering puck just outside the Chicago blue line.
Hansen received a two minute minor for roughing and Hossa left the ice with the assistance of trainers and headed to the Blackhawks locker room, not to be seen again the rest of the night. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville refuted initial rumors that Hossa may have left the United Center early in order to head to a nearby hospital in his postgame press conference.
A late flurry by Vancouver pushed the game into overtime and eventually the shootout, as Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler scored on the power play with 2:42 remaining in regulation on a shot that deflected off Brandon Saad's leg and past Ray Emery.
With just over a minute remaining and the Vancouver net empty, Kevin Bieksa beat Ray Emery with a laser slap shot from the point that traveled through a screen set by Alex Burrows and over Emery's short-side shoulder.
Canucks forward Daniel Sedin scored Vancouver's first goal on a bad angle shot that managed to find it's way through Emery's pads as he attempted to seal the near post.