The 'Hawks road trip out east came to a bitter end tonight, as they fell to former teammate Nick Leddy and the Islanders by a score of 3-2. Much of the final 40 minutes of this one felt like it was all New York, especially the second period in which the 'Hawks were outshot 17-7.
The first period had a real quick pace to it that favored the 'Hawks, as they had more quality scoring chances in the period, but it didn't feel like they dominated. It was a lot of fast back and forth play, with both teams playing good defense and relying on their goaltenders, both of whom turned in solid efforts.
The second period was all Isles, as mentioned. The 'Hawks did open the scoring on a bit of a strange sequence that ended up seeing Daniel Caricillo credited with a tally, but six seconds later Cal Clutterbuck capitalized on a uncharacteristic bad turnover from Duncan Keith.
The third started off in the 'Hawks favor, with a few quality chances coming from the guys in white. Patrick Kane did what he does and scored the 'Hawks second goal on a filthy backhander to give the 'Hawks a 2-1 lead. However, a powerplay tally from Kyle Okposo, followed by a goal from Lubomir Visnovsky 51 seconds later, were enough to sink the 'Hawks.
In spite of the rough second period, it was a good overall effort from the 'Hawks. Even with the Isles' surge in the second, it never felt like the 'Hawks were hopeless. You never want to just chalk one up to being tired, but after playing 10 of their last 12 games on the road, it's hard to dismiss that idea as well. This one probably needs to be credited more to a great effort from the Islanders than a tired 'Hawks team, as New York came out and gave the 'Hawks one of the better games they've played of late.
Onto the stars.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Patrick Kane
Enough said. (GIF via: @myregularface)
2. Brandon Saad
Saad had an overal great game tonight. He played great defensively, with a couple of great takeaways a, includng one that led to a breakaway. He created some great scoring chances in the first period specifically, but was solid throughout the game. After struggling for a bit on the top line with Toews and Hossa, he appears to be finding his form a bit and getting a bit more comfortable in his current role. Quenneville has certainly noticed, as he kept Saad on the first line and bumped Patrick Sharp down to the third when he came back. Hopefully his excellent play continues.
1. Scott Darling
Darling turned in yet another extremely solid effort in this one. He has been nothing short of reliable in net for the 'Hawks in Corey Crawford's absence, and Quenneville seems to trust him, as he played his 4th straight game tonight. With Crawford nearing return (possibly tomorrow), it'll be interesting to see what the 'Hawks do with the 25-year old Darling. He has certainly proved deserving of the #2 spot, and also proved that he can do well in that role. But he also might be better served to go back to Rockford where he will get continual playing time. Then again, the same could be said for Antti Raanta. It's not a bad problem for the 'Hawks to have, certainly, but they're gonna have to make a decision soon.
The 'Hawks next game is tomorrow night, as they return home to take on the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m. CT.
Adam Hess is the editor and publisher of Feathers in the Hat, and contributor to Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @FeathersInDaHat.