The Blackhawks and Maple Leafs took the marquee on Hockey Night in Canada on Hockey Fights Cancer Night, and Chicago put together a complete, 60-minute victory.
Dave Bolland was welcomed back to the United Center during the ceremonial puck drop and again at the first media timeout. Other than those two moments and his two minutes in the penalty box in the first period, it was hard to notice Bolland on Saturday night; he won four of nine faceoffs, was credited with two shots on net, one hit and one takeaway.
The first 20 minutes saw more action in and out of the penalty boxes than it did on the scoreboard. Chicago out-shot Toronto 9-3 in the opening period, and both teams successfully killed two penalties.
Bryan Bickell got the Hawks on the board at 5:32 into the second with a nice goal. Bickell showed good patience in depositing the puck behind Jonathan Bernier for his first goal of the new season. In spite of a solid stat line that included one blocked shot and two hits, Bickell was limited to only 17 shifts and 10:47 in the game.
Nazem Kadri tied the game 91 seconds after Bickell’s goal with Duncan Keith in the box for interference. The score was tied for only 2:35, as Mike Kostka scored his first career NHL goal against his former team. Kostka received a nice pass from Brandon Pirri and Bernier was behind a solid screen from Brandon Bollig on the play.
Pirri would add his second goal in as many games on a power play later in the second to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead. A gorgeous cross-crease pass through traffic from Brandon Saad was redirected into the net by Pirri, who was named the Number One Star of the game. Pirri skated only 9:37 and won two of only five faceoffs, but contributed 1:44 to the power play in the game on the second unit with Saad and Marian Hossa.
Hossa was credited with a team-high seven shots on goal; Toronto only had 20 shots as a team in the game. Jonathan Toews won 11 of 19 draws, Andrew Shaw won four of five and Patrick Sharp won three of four as the Hawks won 30 of 54 faceoffs in the game.
Meanwhile, Corey Crawford made a few nice saves en route to a 19-save victory. The skaters in front of Crawford did a nice job of keeping shots away from their netminder; Chicago blocked 14 shots, led by three from Johnny Oduya.
Nick Leddy was credited with two assists in the game after the young defenseman had only one in his previous seven games to start the season. Pirri now has three points in his last two games, and Saad played a fantastic game in every zone.
Coming into the game, special teams was a key; both of Toronto’s units were near the top of the NHL while Chicago’s had been struggling. However, while the Blackhawks did allow one power play goal to Kadri in the second period, but successfully killed four of five penalties on the night while converting one of three power plays of their own.
NOTE: earlier on Saturday, the Blackhawks announced that the organization has signed defenseman Viktor Svedberg to a two-year contract. The 6-8, 234-pound defenseman is currently playing with Rockford.