The Chicago Blackhawks have have tied the NHL record for most games without a loss to start the season, by defeating their bitter rival, the Vancouver Canucks, in a nail-biter of a game that ended in a shootout.
The first period was a wild one. It can be summed up as a “breakaway fest”, as there were 5 total breakaways in the period, 3 from the Blackhawks(2 of which were shorthanded!) and 2 from the Canucks. None of those ended up in the back of any net, as goaltenders Ray Emery and Corey Schneider each made clutch saves to keep the game scoreless. The Canuck’s Power Play looked flat-out awful, as the Hawks Penalty Kill looked spectacular. It was the Canucks however, who drew first blood, as Daniel Sedin snuck a backhander past Emery, giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
The second period belonged to the Hawks. The officials clearly missed a call on the Hawks, for too many men on the ice, but the Hawks took advantage seconds later, as Patrick Sharp fired a slap-shot past Schneider, to even the score at one goal apiece. A bit later in the period, the Hawks were on the Power Play, when Marian Hossa gave the Hawks the lead on his slap-shot, to make it 2-1 Hawks. Less than 4 minutes later, it was Hossa again, but this time a hard-worked, out-muscled, well deked moves lead to his backhander finding the back of the net to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead at the end of the second period.
The 3rd period opened with some controversy. Vancouver winger, Jannik Hansen landed a nasty elbow to the back of Marian Hossa’s head, leaving Hossa face-down on the ice for several minutes. Hossa went back to the locker room and did not return to the game. The 3rd consisted of lots of activity after the whistle(which is to be expected in a Blackhawks/Canucks game) and several penalties. It appeared the Hawks were on their way to a regulation victory, until Michal Rozsival took an ill-timed hooking penalty, which lead to a Canucks’ Power Play goal off of Alexander Edler’s slap-shot, making the game 3-2 Hawks with less than 3 minutes to play. The Canucks evened the score with the extra-attacker and an empty-net, with a minute to play, on Kevin Bieksa‘s goal. Regulation ended in a 3-3 tie, and each team was rewarded a point in the standings.
The 5-minute Overtime period came and went, and the game was headed for a shootout. In the first round, Jonathan Toews and Jordan Schroder each failed to score. The second round was the exact opposite, as both Patrick Kane and Chris Higgins scored goals. The third round turned out to be the decisive one, as Andrew Shaw scored for the Hawks and Ryan Kessler failed to score for the Canucks, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 shootout victory, and a share of the record for best start to an NHL season.
Ray Emery played fantastic, with several clutch saves that kept the Blackhawks in the game.
Duncan Keith ended the game with a team-high of 29:18 minutes on the ice.
The Blackhawks have earned 29 out of a possible 32 points so far this season.
Next up for the Blackhawks is the San Jose Sharks, who will be in Chicago to take on the Hawks on Friday. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM.