One goal on two shots is a bad start; two goals on seven shots is a bad period; three goals on nine shots is ugly; and four goals on ten shots is a back-breaker.
Yes, the Blackhawks’ loss in Dallas on Tuesday evening falls almost entirely on the shoulders of Cristobal Huet, who posted the above-described stink bomb of a night.
It wasn’t all bad, though. The Hawks played very inspired hockey in the Stars’ zone, and almost overcame Huet’s poor outing, taking a four-to-four tie into the third period.
They even started out the scoring. Three minutes into the opening period, Troy Brouwer knocked home a rebound at the end of a dominant power play. Both – rebounds and productive power plays – quickly became a trend for the Hawks during the evening.
The lead wouldn’t last, though. Two minutes later, Huet fell moving across the crease to defend a cross-ice pass, and Mike Modano-Ford beat the prone goaltender.
Later in the period, Cam Barker pinched at the Star blue line, leaving Brent Seabrook and Mike Ribeiro to their own devices heading into the Hawk zone. Ribeiro took Seabrook wide, swooped behind the net and beat Huet with a wrap-around to the other side. Neither Seabrook or Huet were able to win the race to the opposite post.
The Hawks wouldn’t be outdone. They took a 3-2 lead into the second frame on the strength of a shot margin of 22-8. Goals came from Kane – his was courtesy of some hard work by Brouwer – and Colin Fraser, who scored his first of the year. The latter goal came off a Ben Eager centering pass that was helped along by a very nifty tip pass by Kris Versteeg.
Early in the second, the horrors continued. Within 92 seconds, the Stars took the lead, and Cristobal Huet was pulled. The first came from Loui Eriksson, when he was able to pound home a behind-the-net centering pass from Brad Richards. Richards out-battled Seabrook and Jonathan Toews to win the puck. The fourth goal came just seconds later when a Steve Ott centering pass hit Troy Brouwer’s skate in the high slot and deflected high into the air and ultimately past Huet, who was in the process of moving across the crease to defend the pass.
Joel Quenneville didn’t hesitate, and immediately called on Annti Niemi to save the day. He nearly did it.
The score remained 4-3 until the Toews line outworked the Stars late in the period. A nice Duncan Keith pass gave Kane the chance to walk into the slot. He did, let out a shot on net, and the resultant rebound bounced into the air. With three seconds left in the period, Toews’ stick beat Marty Turco’s glove to it, and the Hawks were able to take a tie into the third and final frame.
Though the Hawks were able to get pressure and a few great scoring chances during the third, the night didn’t belong to them. Turco stopped a Marian Hossa breakaway early, and Jonathan Toews hit a post from the doorstep with about five minutes left.
The only scoring of the deciding period came from Steve Ott, who received a pretty neutral zone feed from Trevor Daly. Ott seemed to receive the pass, split the defenseman and shoot from the high slot all in one elongated motion. His shot beat Niemi clean between the glove and the body, and gave the Stars the final lead of the night.
– Oh, boy, here it comes – the hanging of Cristobal Huet, Part II. Brace yourselves.
No, Huet didn’t play well. Falling over himself on the first goal and allowing Ribeiro to beat him on a wrap-around for the second – not exactly the stuff of legends. The third and fourth goals weren’t necessarily his fault, but it was obvious to everyone in the rink that it just wasn’t Huet’s night.
And, that’s just it: it was one night. While I don’t doubt the mob will be looking for him tomorrow night, remember a few things: his goals against average and save percentage are both stellar, even after a rough start; he recorded back-to-back shutouts less than two weeks ago; he was the NHL’s player of the week earlier this month; and most importantly, he’s the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender.
For context, Ryan Miller, this year’s early season Vezina Trophy favorite, has given up five goals twice so far this year. He’s also been pulled twice. In fact, he was pulled last night after giving up three goals on 11 shots. Think the people of Buffalo are after his blood?
– I don’t know who called last night’s game for Versus. I just don’t care. But, for those of you who missed it, the color analyst actually suggested that Brian Campbell’s so-so regular season last year was due to “rigor mortis setting in.”
Do we have any doctors, coroners or necrophiliacs out there who can help me with this one?
– Rather than worrying about Huet, I’ll spend my Wednesday wondering what’s going on with Marian Hossa. On Tuesday, he lacked any semblance of an extra step and was largely invisible. He’s now without a point in three straight.
– With an Eastern Conference opponent coming to the UC, it’s likely – independent of Huet’s poor outing – that Niemi will get the nod against the Devils tomorrow.