The Anaheim Ducks completed their shortened season sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks with a 2-1 victory at the United Center. A thrilling back and forth game between the top two teams in the Western Conference did not disappoint, but it appears the Ducks have the Blackhawks number in this matchup. At least for now.
The first period was an evenly matched, physical, back and forth period of hockey between the titans of the Western Conference. The Blackhawks upped their physical play in this game, which seemed to keep the Ducks on their toes a bit more, when compared to the last time these two teams met. The Hawks consistently thwarted any chance the Ducks generated with physical play, shot blocking, and stellar play in net from Ray Emery. The physical hit parade was lead by Hawks’ defenseman, Brent Seabrook, who had 4 hits in the first period. The Blackhawks 4th line of Marcus Kruger, Jamal Mayers, and Daniel Carcillo also came up big in the hits department and even generated a couple of solid scoring chances in the 1st period. The period ended with a scoreless tie, but the play on ice had a slight edge in the Blackhawks favor.
The edge stopped there, however. A seemingly different Hawks team came out of the dressing room, to start the 2nd period, as the Ducks controlled the tempo from the drop of the puck. It didn’t take long for Corey Perry to break the scoreless tie, in the Ducks favor, with his wrister past Emery. The Hawks had plenty of opportunities squandered in the 2nd, as the Power Play woes continued. The Ducks generated several solid Short Handed chances, as the Hawks failed to create quality chances on the man advantage. Luckily for the Hawks, Ray Emery continued to stand on his head, and kept the score at a merciful 1-0 advantage to the Ducks, to end the 2nd period.
The 3rd period, had a feel more like the 1st period, with an evenly-matched play on the ice. The Blackhawks earned a Power Play, as Sheldon Souray inadvertently flipped the puck into the stands for a delay-of-game penalty. Once again, it appeared as if the only advantage on the Power Play was in favor of the Ducks, as they generated more Short Handed chances, only to once again be thwarted by Ray Emery. When the Hawks regained possession on the Power Play, the puck found it’s way to Patrick Kane‘s stick, and once again, the puck found it’s way to the back of the net, to tie the game at one goal a piece. The game remained at an even tempo throughout the period. That was until about 18:00 minutes into the period, when the Hawks “anti-clutch” blues were heard loud and clear, as Sheldon Souray made up for his ill-timed penalty, by giving the Ducks the lead on his powerful slapshot. The Hawks comeback efforts would prove to be non-existent as the Ducks took the victory, by a score of 2-1.
Patrick Kane improved his point streak to 8 games, with his goal tonight.
Ray Emery suffered his first loss of the season, in very undeserving fashion, as he kept the Hawks in the game, all night.
Next up for the Blackhawks is an Easter Sunday matchup against the rival Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is set for 11:30 AM Central Time to accommodate the National broadcast, on NBC.