Observations From Section 321: 4th And Goal
The Blackhawks stay perfect on the season with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars
From the drop of the opening puck until final horn of overtime the Blackhawks outplayed the Dallas Stars. The problem was, for the majority of the game, they trailed in the only stat that really matters, goals. Kari Lehtonen did his absolute best to keep his team in the game but Hawks power play was too much for Dallas to handle. The Blackhawks have had some great scoring depth to start the season but Thursday night was all about the superstars being just that, super!
There has been a lot of talk about this year's team reminding people of the 2010 team, but the way the 1st period ended reminded me more of last season. Loui Eriksson's wrist shot appeared to be an easy save for Corey Crawford, but somehow the puck trickled through his legs and over the goal line with just 0.6 seconds left in the period. That goal was a crusher. We saw too many goals in the final minute of a period last year, but to Crawford's credit he bounced back rather well.
Ryan Garbutt was awarded a penalty shot early in the 2nd period after he was taken down by Brent Seabrook. Crawford made a solid save on Garbutt's backhand shot to keep the score at 1-0. Midway through the period, the ageless wonder, Ray Whitney gave the Stars a 2-0 lead with his 2nd goal of the young season. The goal was direct result of a horrible turnover by Michael Rozsival at the blue line. It was the kind of turnover that just might get him scratched for tomorrow's game in Columbus, we shall see. With the way Lehtonen was playing things did not look too good for the Hawks at this point. The Blackhawks were going to need a lucky break to get back into the game and that is exactly what they got. While on the power play, for a Ryan Larsen tripping penalty, Patrick Sharp fired a shot off Trevor Daley's stick and past Lehtonen to cut the lead in half. Patrick Kane and Nick Leddy were credited with assists on the play. The 2nd period nearly ended the exact same way the first period did. Alex Goligoski fired a slap shot, as time was winding down, that got through the pads of Crow, but Duncan Kieth was in the right place at the right time, and stopped the puck at the goal line with his stick.
Lehtonen remained stellar in the 3rd period to keep the Stars in front, but the Hawks kept coming. At 13:08 Eric Nystrom was sent to the box for boarding Nick Leddy behind the Hawks net. 59 seconds later Jonathan Toews fired a wrist shot past the Dallas goalie to tie the game. Sharp and Keith picked up assists on the captain's 2nd goal of the year. For the second straight game Niklas Hjalmarsson took a penalty near the end of regulation. He was sent to the box for tripping with just 1:18 left in the 3rd period. The PK unit was able to keep the Stars off the board to force overtime. Brendan Morrow was called for interference 22 seconds into OT to wipe out the final 20 seconds of the Stars power play. Once on the man advantage, Kaner made a sweet no look pass to Marian Hossa who buried the shot past Lehtonen for the game winner. The Hawks seem to have their swagger back along with their speed. This has been a fun start to the year but there is still a long way to go!
* The Blackhawks power play scored 3 time last night and have at least one goal in every game. Let that sink in for a moment....
* Duncan Keith looks to be back to his Norris Trophy winning form through four games. He has his legs back and his making great plays in both zones of the ice. I had a feeling the extra time off because of the lockout would do Keith a lot of good and that appears to be the case. Not playing 30 minutes game is helping too, so let's make that a thing from here on out.
* Can we stop the Nick Leddy trade talk now?
*It's time to take Andrew Shaw off the power play unit. Not sure what he provides the top line at this point. Kane and Hossa showed what they can do together on the game winning goal, so the top PP unit should have Toews centering the duo.
* It was good to see Jamal Mayers back on the ice.
* Bradon Saad continues to look good despite not making the score sheet.
The Hawks will travel to Columbus for their first look at the Blue Jackets tomorrow night. This could be one of those infamous "trap" games, so hopefully there is no let down. Even though the BJ's are improved the Hawks are the superior team.