After coming up with a nice victory over the elite Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, you'd have thought the Blackhawks would be a little drained on Sunday, but that really wasn't the case, as they came up with an energetic effort against Edmonton and would come away with a nice 3-2 victory in front of a big, loud crowd of 20,501 fans at the United Center.
You could see the Hawks built some nice momentum from the win in Ottawa, because in the 1st period they definitely had the edge in play and took it to Edmonton physically as well. Just about seven minutes into the 1st, the Hawks would get the first goal of the game.
On the power play, a pass was sent to Brent Seabrook at the point, who let a one-timer go that would actually deflect off Fernando Pisani's stick, and would get past Oilers goalie Mathieu Garon and into the net, giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with still about 13 minutes left in the 1st.
Unfortunately, just over a minute after the Seabrook goal, Edmonton would get a power play and cash in to tie it right back up. On this play, a pass hit James Wisniewski's stick and went right to Tom Gilbert, who let a shot go from the right circle that would beat Nikolai Khabibulin, making it a 1-1 game still fairly early in the 1st.
Just about 3 minutes after the Gilbert goal, the Oilers would come right back and pot another one, giving themselves the lead. On this play, Dustin Penner made a steal in the neutral zone and moved in to the Hawks' zone. He also was able out-muscle Dustin Byfuglien and move past him, and then shoveled a backhander past Khabibulin, making it 2-1 Oilers at that point. That's how the score would stay into the 1st intermission.
The 2nd period was a relatively quiet one until late in the frame, when the Blackhawks would find a way to tie the game back up again. This play was pretty much all made by Patrick Kane, who skated into the Oilers' zone and made a very nice pass from behind the net in front to Patrick Sharp, who knocked it home for his team-leading 18th goal (and his 6th in the last 8 games) of the season, tying it up at 2-2. Matt Johnson over at The Blackhawk Experience is saying Sharp should be in the All Star game this year, and I have to agree 100%. Sharp is having a breakout season, something I did not expect from him this year.
Early in the 3rd period, the Hawks would come out strong looking for the win, and just 1:20 into the period, they would get the go-ahead goal. On this play, Brent Seabrook would lead take a pass as he crossed into the Oilers' zone, and would simply unleash a bullet similar to the one he let go in Ottawa, and Garon was no match for it, as it got past him to give Chicago a 3-2 lead very early in the 3rd. Seabrook has three goals in his last two games. It was also the first two-goal game in his career.
The Hawks would keep battling and played smart defensively to defend their lead, and Khabibulin would turn away 11 shots in the 3rd from Edmonton, while stopping 27 for the entire game, helping the Blackhawks wrap up a nice home victory.
Can't complain about tonight's game at all. I figured this team would be tired and would probably drop this one after battling so hard in Ottawa last night, but they came up with another sterling performance tonight. The crowd had great energy, and it's absolutely awesome to see an attendance of 20,000+. Even better? WSCR reported that after the game, Martin Lapointe came back out on the ice and raised his stick to salute the fans and thank them for coming out. He then started giving pucks and sticks to fans, and many of his teammates followed suit. How classy is that? Lapointe might not be contributing much on the scoresheet this year, but that gives him a lot of points in my book.
A little infirmary report: David Bolland left the game after taking a shot to the hand, and the official site is now reporting that he has a broken finger, and will be out for an undetermined amount of time. Tough break again for the Hawks, losing a 4th liner/penalty killer who seemed to be getting a little better each game. I would expect someone like Troy Brouwer, Michael Blunden or maybe Bryan Bickell will be called up from Rockford to take his place. Also, Martin Havlat did miss the game with a groin injury. They still have not reported how long he will be out.
It's nice to get a win going into this little "Christmas break", as the Hawks will be out of action until Wednesday, the day after Christmas. I hope everyone out there has a safe and enjoyable holiday!
SCH Hawks Player Of The Game: Brent Seabrook, who picked up two goals, including the game winner.