For two periods, the Blackhawks dominated the entire flow of the game – they owned the offensive zone, the neutral zone, and the defensive zone. To show for it, they had a 3-1 lead.
It started off well enough with Patrick Sharp beating Nikolai Khabibulin to the far side after a sweet drop pass from Jonathan Toews. The goal extended Sharp’s point streak to 6 games.
The play started when Ham Sandwich stopped Ales Hemsky from clearing the zone. Ladd picked up the loose puck and fed Toews to start the goal-scoring play.
A minute and a half later, the Hawks made one of their only mistakes in the neutral zone. Cam Barker and Brent Sopel got caught out of position; Ethan Moreau came in on his weak side, got the puck past a diving Sopel and Andrew Cogliano roofed it over Antti Niemi to tie the score.
The Hawks grabbed the lead again for good when Jack Skille banged home his first goal of the year. Brian Campbell found his partner, Ham Sandwich, alone on the left point. Last year, Sandwich most likely would have dumped the puck deep or quickly fired it on net. With each passing game though, he seems to be developing more and more confidence.
Sandwich slid across the blue line, dragging the puck along with him, and fired a shot on net. Skille was there to knock home the bouncing puck.
Kris Versteeg gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead at the half-way mark of the game. With the Oilers in the midst of getting called for a penalty, Brian Campbell took the puck wide into the zone. Four Oilers watched Kris Versteeg plant himself in front of the net and Campbell didn’t miss him with the pass.
If it weren’t for Khabibulin in the second period and early part of the third, the game could have very easily become a laugher. He made key saves on Kane and Versteeg. His biggest save, though, was stoning Patrick Sharp on a penalty shot.
(Just in case you didn’t hear, the Blackhawks haven’t scored on a penalty shot at home since the Reagan Administration.)
Halfway through the third, Dustin Penner made things a little tighter with his third goal of the season. His centering pass from behind the net deflected off Ham Sandwich’s foot and past Niemi.
Niemi made a key glove save a couple minutes later when a puck squirted out to a streaking Gilbert Brule. Sure, it hit him right in the glove, but he still made the save.
Cam Barker gave the Hawks some more breathing room with three minutes left. What he lacks in defensive skills, he certainly makes up for in offensive prowess. Barker got the puck from Toews, stared at Duncan Keith the whole time giving the illusion he was passing, and then blasted a shot over a screened Khabibulin.
The Oilers scored another goal with 47 seconds left. A game that felt like a blowout for most of the game was now one goal away from going to overtime.
It wasn’t to be. The Hawks held off the Oilers late surge and they finished off a perfect homestand 3-0-0. As long as Dave Bolland is still alive after taking a Lubomir Visnovsky slap shot off the leg on the last shift of the game, then it was a very successful evening.
—Couple of brief thoughts– Just because he’s not showing up on the score sheet, don’t think Troy Brouwer is having a piss-poor start to his season. Brouwer played huge for most of the night. Again.
In the first, he even showed off some impressive moves when he did a little stop and start to blow by an Oiler defenseman and then cut hard to the net to only to be denied by Khabibulin. He looks a lot more comfortable in his skin this year and at some point, those pucks are going to start finding twine.
–According to Bobby, at about the 8 minute mark of the third period, United Center security made people take down a huge sign reading, “One Goal Trade Huet”. I’m not sure what to think of that, but I feel like you should know.
–Don’t expect the daily Skille reassignment tomorrow. With a game in Nashville, the Hawks will have the unenviable task of actually having to keep him on the roster for the day. Oh, those tricky salary caps.
*On the Farm*
—The IceHogs lost to the Greatest AHL Team Ever Assembled (Chicago Wolves) 5-4. The IceHogs let a 4-2 third period lead go by the wayside when the Wolves scored three unanswered in an eleven minute span. Danny Bois, Mark Cullen, Akim Aliu, and Rob Klinkhammer were the goal scorers for the Hogs. Defenseman Brian Connelly had two assists to lead the team. Corey Crawford stopped 30 of the 35 shots he faced.
—Byron Froese had a goal and two assists for the Everett Silvertips in their 5-1 win over the Prince Albert Raiders.