Tonight’s game began with
Tonight’s game began with a tribute to Marian Hossa. It was quite the sight, when 21 sweaters bearing the #81 stepped on to the ice. Big Hoss was honored with a silver stick, and a fabulous picture of him holding the Cup. Then came the CEO of the Blackhawks, John McDonough, also toasting the Hawks faithful for bearing the snow and the cold, and coming out to support their team. After many ‘HOSS-A’ chants, the ceremony was over, and it was time for Chicago to get to work, against the team that handed them their first loss of the season.
As the ceremony stopped and the game began, one team got to work. Unfortunately, that team was not Chicago. Minnesota stuck first when Devin Setoguchi made short work of a terrible Andrew Shaw turnover, and it was 1-0 for the Wild. That did not last long. 5 minutes after that, Brandon Saad (ON THE FIRST LINE) notched his fourth of the season with a great net drive, and helpers from Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Only 44 seconds later, Bryan Bickell also tucked his fourth, and then his fifth not too long after. Marian Hossa capped off the Blackhawks’ insane offensive push by scoring the 4th Hawks goal in 5 minutes and 43 seconds. The Hawks kept the offense going for the rest of the frame, and the shots after the First were 17-6 Chicago.
The second period was the exact opposite of the first, with neither team denting the scoresheet. Even though there was no scoring, the Blackhawks were very much on the offensive. They were winning battles along the boards, which made up for their lack of power at the faceoff circle: after 2 periods, only Jonathan Toews (no surprise) was over 40% for faceoffs. The Blackhawks were not shelling, and they ran the 2-1-2 forecheck to perfection. Shots in the 2nd period were a little closer, but still heavily on the Blackhawks side: 11-4
Could you expect anything different? The last 6 home wins for the Hawks were decided by one goal. It was obvious that a ‘shell’ was coming. The Blackhawks still were winning battles, but the forecheck was nowhere near the level it was 20 minutes before. Because of that, the lead suffered. Ryan Suter finally scored his 100 Million Dollar Goal, as he buried with his first with the Wild. Not long following that, Kyle Brodziak got the puck on his stick on the goal-line right after a series of crazy bounces around Corey Crawford, and he quieted the Madhouse, and cut the lead to one.
Patrick Kane couldn’t stay quiet any longer. With a rebound on his blade, he snapped one off the iron and into the twine, and restored the noise to the UC. That was all the Hawks needed, as they held on for a 5-3 victory.
The Blackhawks set a franchise record with their 10th straight triumph. Interestingly, the Hawks set the record at 9 in 2008 against the Minnesota Wild. They won’t have long to celebrate: they play tomorrow night against the Colorado Avalanche for their 24th contest in the 48 game season.
Brandon Saad had a night to remember, with a goal and 2 primary assists, all in the 1st period. His point totals in March already equal the points he got in February and January.
All of the Hawks key offensive players stepped up tonight: Toews, Hossa, and Kane all had a point.
The fourth line lacked this evening, perhaps due to the absence of Michael Frolik due to sickness.
Corey Crawford did not have his best outing. He made key saves (like the one point-blank on Dany Heatley) but he struggled overall, with a .870 SV%
Dave Bolland was quiet in his return.
Skylar’s 3 Stars:
#1: Brandon Saad
#2: Bryan Bickell
#3: Marian Hossa