by Vince Maranto on 02/22/12 at 03:59 PM ET
The Blackhawks now have won 4 in a row, after snapping the long losing streak. Last night it was the Detroit Red Wings who fell to the Hawks by a score of 2 - 1, at the United Center. The Wings, although record breaking at home, are just a .500 team on the road this season. The game was also played missing a key player from each squad. The Hawks were without Toews (day to day, upper body). Detroit played without Datsyuk who will be out several weeks due to knee surgery.
A player who was back from injury was their goalie Jimmy Howard. He’s been out close to 3 weeks with a broken finger on his blocker hand. Howard (32-11-1) faced Crawford (21-14-5) in net. You would have never known that Howard missed all that time by watching him play, he came up BIG on several occasions. It didn’t help either that the Hawks managed only a few shots on goal in the first 8 minutes.
The lines for the Hawks, missing their Captain, looked like this; 1) Sharp, Morrison (a healthy scratch for the last week or so) Kane. 2) Brunette, Kruger, Hossa. 3) Bickell, Bolland, Stalberg (I like that combo over the last several games) 4) Frolik, Mayers, Hayes. On “D” it was Keith & Olsen, Leddy & Seabrook, Scott (who saw very few shifts) & Lepisto.. Good news, by the way, Hjalmarsson skated with the team in the morning.
In the first period, the Hawks Penalty Kill (26th, 79%) was tested half a minute in. After failing to clear the Wings scored with 11 seconds left. An early 1 - 0 deficit. It looked like Crawford saw it all the way and had it, but it slipped under his right pad. During the play Bolland caught a puck to the face, but would return. The Hawks then had 2 opportunities to tie the game, via the Power Play. They P.P. (16%, 19th) had been a miserable 0 for 27 in their previous attempts. Add 2 more to the 27, and leave the 0 alone. The rest of the period was the usual fast paced, hard hitting, solidly played hockey game. Detroit only out shot Chicago 10-9. which surprised me.
There was another P.K. for the Hawks 3 minutes into the second period. Frolik, on a breakaway, had the best scoring chance, but came up short. It was a Jimmy Howard high light reel from that point on! He then denied Bolland & Brunette. Finally, Jimmy Hayes scored to tie it up, 1 - 1. Immediately after, Howard came up big again, stopping Sharp on a 3 on 1, and then later Kane. Another P.K by the Hawks (despite a near miss) was successful. More great saves by Howard were followed by another scoreless Power Play. I really though that between Howard’s save & blown Power Plays, that this game was NOT meant to be. I was again surprised that the Wings shot on goal total edged the Hawks 25 - 22. I would have thought the Hawks shot more.
2 minutes in, Kruger put the Hawks up 2 - 1. Hayes used his big body to hang onto and shield the puck. It was then, again, hard fought action by both teams. With less than a minute left, Howard was pulled. The game ended 2 - 1. Crawford had 31 saves.
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