A storm of offense in the third period coupled with clutch saves from Corey Crawford sealed a victory and a playoff berth for the Chicago Blackhawks.
If not for an awful giveaway (or should we say assist) by Michal Rozsival in the first period, the Blackhawks thoroughly dominated the Vancouver Canucks.
Teuvo Teravainen scored his fourth of the season to give the Hawks a lead at 6:51 but that lead wouldn’t last the duration of the period. Rozsival perfectly set up Derek Dorsett for his seventh of the season with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period. The Hawks out-shot Vancouver 13-11 in the first period, and successfully killed a high-sticking double-minor on Antoine Vermette.
The second period was a draw, with the Hawks out-shooting the Canucks 11-10. Chicago had two power plays but failed to generate much on either of them; the power play continues to be a momentum killer for the Hawks.
Another power play early in the third failed to provide a goal, but the Hawks put much better pressure on Eddie Lack. After four shots on that power play, the Hawks continued to dictate the tempo of the game and eventually broke through eight minutes into the period. A Johnny Oduya shot got through traffic but hit off the crossbar. Jonathan Toews got somehow his stick between Lack and Dan Hamhuis in front and tapped the rebound home for the game-winning goal.
Less than three minutes later, Teravainen and Marcus Kruger combined to take the puck away and Kruger made a gorgeous move on Lack to extend the lead to 3-1.
From there, it was all Crawford.
In the final five minutes of regulation, the Canucks put more pressure on Crawford but weren’t able to get the puck past him. Vancouver pulled Lack with two minutes left in regulation, but the Blackhawks put more shots at the empty net than the Canucks were able to generate. Three Hawks missed the empty net in the closing moments, but the victory was secure.
Crawford stopped 35 of 36 in the win, and continued his stellar play in the third period. He now boasts the third-best save percentage in the third period in the NHL for the season.
Toews and Kruger both had big nights. Each won 13 of 19 faceoffs and had two takeaways while scoring a goal, and Kruger picked up an assist an Teravainen’s goal in the first period. Kruger also finished tied with Kris Versteeg with a team-high five shots on net.
The lowest three ice time recipients among Hawks forwards were Andrew Desjardins (10:13), Bryan Bickell (11:02) and Vermette (11:59). Vermette was credited with two shots on net and one hit, but did not take a single faceoff in the game. Desjardins, Bickell and Marian Hossa led the Hawks with two hits each.
Rozsival wasn’t credited with an assist on Dorsett’s goal, but did lead the Hawks with five blocked shots.
Calgary lost in regulation at St. Louis, a game that went final early in the third period of the game in Chicago. That result meant the Blackhawks needed only one point from their game against the Canucks to clinch a playoff spot this season, but Chicago opted to pick up two big points in the standings. Minnesota lost to the New York Rangers on Thursday night, a game that also went final early in the Hawks’ third period.