After the disaster of a tilt against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, the hope was that the Chicago Blackhawks would come out against a lowly Carolina Hurricanes club and lay waste to the scoresheet in a way that not even the most extreme of weather puns could come to describe. Well, the Hawks were able to walk away with a couple of points, but it wasn't exactly the prettiest of efforts.
It sure looked like it would be early on, though. The Hawks potted a pair of goals within 79 seconds to give them an early 2-0 edge. This left many assuming they'd run away with hit, just as they did the last time these two squads met. Unfortunately, the Hawks were also of the mindset in which they assumed they'd already put the Canes away, as they went on to put things on cruise control for the remainder of the effort.
At least the goals were pretty. Marcus Kruger found Andrew Shaw in the slot with a pass from behind the net to open up the scoring, before Marian Hossa hit Patrick Sharp with a beauty of a pass as Sharp flew up the middle of the ice for the early lead. That first period was the only frame in which the Blackhawks even remotely held an edge in either shots or Corsi, as the Hurricanes would dominate the rest of this one.
The second period was certainly an alarming one. Had it not been for the outstanding play of Corey Crawford, this one had the potential to get really ugly really quickly. Victor Rask potted the only goal of the frame, but the Canes were able to outshoot the Blackhawks by a 19-6 count, while leading in Corsi 33-15. It didn't get any prettier in the third period, as Carolina went for a 27-10 edge in Corsi.
Luckily, Andrew Shaw was able to easily put the empty net goal on the board to give the Hawks a 3-1 edge in the final minute. The final shot chart for the game featured a 44-25 edge (do we really call that an "edge"?) for the Hurricanes, while the home team absolutely dominated the Corsi chart, taking an absurd 82-46 advantage for the evening. The Hawks were able to escape due to a healthy (not actually healthy, though) amount of shot blocks, with 22 for the game, and the outstanding play of their netminder.
Hey, the Blackhawks do leave Carolina with a couple of milestones, though. Joel Quenneville just barely gets his 750th career win in the books, while the Shaw empty net goal provided Jonathan Toews with his 500th career point. As ugly as the effort was, the Hawks were able to realize both of the potential milestones that grabbed headlines coming into this one.
Nonetheless, definitely some concerns after a game like that. The two points are nice, but a game like that against a team like that, at this point in the season, is nowhere near acceptable. Hopefully Quenneville has some words for his team, even if they did grab the W. The Hawks will have another opportunity to get completely back on track when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday evening.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Corey Crawford
2. Corey Crawford
Only player who showed up beyond the first period.
1. Corey Crawford
Seriously, though, this was another outstanding performance from Corey Crawford. The Hawks have made it an alarming habit of letting him do the bulk of the leg work in getting them the two points necessary in far too many games over the past month, with the exception of that stretch of like..four games. Crawford was terrific again tonight, and this is another effort where you can very easily say that without Crawford, the Blackhawks aren't walking away with two points. Hopefully the boys can make things a bit easier for him on Wednesday.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.