By Allan Muir
• It goes down in the books as a record-tying 4-3 win for the Chicago Blackhawks, but this one won’t leave anyone in the mood to celebrate.
This was a 25-minute effort for the Hawks, a pretty miserable way to tie an NHL record originally set by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks with points in 16 straight games to start the season.
Chicago played a tentative first period as they tried to adjust to Vancouver’s early passive forecheck, then were back on their heels as the Canucks changed course and began hammering them and hemming them in their own zone.
The Hawks retaliated in the second, playing the kind of all-guts, no-glory style that got them to this point. They outshot Vancouver 16-6 and rang up three unanswered goals, including a pair from first star Marian Hossa.
But the third was the stuff of Joel Quenneville’s nightmares, a fine start that dissolved into bad decisions, lazy penalties and weak plays along the wall leading to a pair of Vancouver goals in the final three minutes to send the game to extra time.
They turned on the jets in OT and eventually put the game in the win column thanks to Andrew Shaw’s shootout clincher, but those two late goals were a sharp reminder that this team can’t afford to play cute.
• Have to believe that Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen will be hearing from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in the morning after this third period incident:
The puck is in the air in front of Hossa. Hansen comes up from behind and rather than make a play for it, he appears to deliver either an elbow or forearm to the back of Hossa’s head.
There’s no way to look at that and see a hockey play gone wrong.
The star forward was flattened in almost the exact same spot that Raffi Torres laid him out in last spring’s playoffs. He eventually got up and left the ice with the assistance of two Chicago trainers but didn’t return to action.
You have to hope for the best for Hossa. And you have to think Hansen will face a significant suspension for targeting his head. MORNING UPDATE: Hansen is scheduled to meet with Shanahan at 3:30 EST today.
• I see players dropping the gloves to defend a fallen teammate in the wake of hard, but perfectly legal, hits all the time. Where were all those honor-bound Blackhawks after this cheapshot?
• Alex Burrows ended up pointless on the night, but the Canucks don’t tie the game up without his gutsy net-front presence. Vancouver’s two late goals, scored by Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa, both came off shots from the point. Hard and accurate, sure, but Ray Emery stops them if he sees them. But there was Burrows in both cases, perfectly timing a mobile screen in front of the Chicago net, giving Emery a chance to finally see the puck only as he was fishing it out from behind him.
• Hard to believe these were two of the league’s top defenses when you see FIVE breakaways over an eight-minute span in the first period. Two of them came on Vancouver’s first power play, with Bieksa, Edler and Dan Hamhuis burned by either poor communication or poor puck control at the offensive blueline. Full marks to Cory Schneider who denied Hossa and Dave Bolland on their shorthanded bids, and later shut the door on Patrick Sharp. Emery twice stopped Daniel Sedin breakaway bids before allowing his marshmallow backhand from the corner to squeeze through his pads later in the first.
• No Brent Seabrook, no problem. Duncan Keith stepped up with 29:28 worth of ice, five minutes above his season average. That was an Olympian performance.
• Can’t say enough about the game from Andrew Shaw. The big winger was a beast on the power play, providing muscle along the boards and an imposing presence down low that facilitated Hossa’s first goal. His shootout clincher was a beauty, a full-speed romp that ended with his backhand beating Schneider high blocker. That’s pretty solid value from a fifth-round pick.