With the entire hockey world watching to see how the best two teams in the league would play against each other, the Blackhawks and Ducks put on a playoff-caliber show.
Unfortunately, the Ducks came away with their 13th consecutive home victory.
The Ducks dominated the early action, taking a physical game to the Hawks. Chicago struggled to handle the puck well in their own zone and paid for it when Peter Holland scored less than 90 seconds into the contest.
An interference penalty on Brandon Bollig put the Hawks short-handed quickly after the goal, and Anaheim had control of the momentum. But Jonathan Toews made another play for his Hart Trophy highlight reel.
Toews blocked a Sheldon Souray shot and took it the other direction. His 15th goal of the year – and second short-handed – tied the game.
The first period ended with the score locked at one, thanks to a strong period from Corey Crawford. The Ducks were credited with 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes, taking advantage of a Hawks team that struggled to move the puck with any consistency.
Toews drew a hooking penalty on Souray in the middle of the second period and the Hawks were able to convert. Birthday boy Nick Leddy scored from the point with the advantage to give the Hawks a lead; this powerplay was a significant improvement from an opportunity earlier in the period that was mediocre (I’m being kind).
The third period started well with the Hawks carrying the action on both ends of the rink. Unfortunately, a goal that was overturned also overturned the Blackhawks momentum.
Brandon Bollig appeared to score the first regular season goal of his career, but video review showed the dreaded “distinct kicking motion.” The goal was taken off the board, and Anaheim jumped all over the Hawks from there.
Ryan Getzlaf earned his enormous new extension, playing a superstar-caliber game. A Getzlaf shot rebounded to Bobby Ryan at 14:33, tying the game. Only 64 seconds later, Teemu Selanne capitalized on another redirected shot to give Anaheim a lead they would not lost.
In the game, Getzlaf had two assists, a blocked shot and two hits. For Selanne, the goal broke a surprising scoring drought and brought the record-setting Honda Center crowd to a deafening roar.
Patrick Kane had an assist on Leddy’s goal to extend his personal point streak, but it was a rough night for Chicago’s leading scorer. With both Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp out of the lineup – and Daniel Carcillo wasting a spot on the bench – Kane skated 25:21 and was minus-four on the night.
One significant stat for the night for the Blackhawks came at the dot, where Chicago won 30 of 55 faceoffs. Toews and Andrew Shaw both won nine of 16 faceoffs and Marcus Kruger won seven of 14 in the game to lead the way.
Once again, Dave Bolland finished under 50 percent, winning only four of 10 opportunities. Shaw was the Blackhawks most effective center in the defensive zone, where he won four of five faceoffs; Bolland, on the other hand, won only two of five in the defensive zone.
Another positive for the Hawks was their special teams. For a second straight game, their struggling penalty kill unit only had to handle one short-handed situation and did so with flying colors; Toews’ short-handed score was the team’s fourth of the season. And, in spite of the first powerplay being a disaster, Leddy’s goal was the team’s third score with a man advantage in three games.
Unfortunately, Carcillo’s “game” was noteworthy as well. He skated only three shifts, which taxed the Hawks top nine forwards in the third period. In seven games in March, Carcillo is now minus-five with only one point, and he has skated only 6:27 combined in his last two appearances.
Coincidence or not, the Blackhawks’ only three regulation losses have been the last three games for which Carcillo has dressed. And since returning from injury, Carcillo has had a negative plus-minus in five of 11 games.
Crawford finished the night with 22 saves against 25 shots, while Jonas Hiller allowed only two goals against 24 Chicago shots.
These two teams will face each other again next Friday night at the United Center. Anaheim should have Corey Perry back in their lineup, and Hawks fans are hoping to see Hossa back in action as well.