Blackhawks top Wings; Set franchise record

160210212_slideIt looked like tonight’s game between the Hawks and Wings was going to be a runaway victory for the home team after Duncan Keith’s powerplay goal just 2:24 into the game. As it turned out, this game was just the opposite.

The Blackhawks got off to a quick start in this one when Keith hammered in a missile of a slap shot past Jimmy Howard to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead and yet another powerplay goal. From that point on in the first period, the Blackhawks controlled the game and spent much of the period in the Red Wings’ own zone. You would have never known that the Hawks played a bruising game in Columbus just 24 hours earlier.

Once the second period began, the momentum almost immediately shifted in Detroit’s favor. The Hawks committed 4 penalties in the second period resulting in 4 Red Wings powerplays, including a 43 second 2-man advantage. While taking 4 penalties in a period is never a recipe for success, the Blackhawks killed off all 4 penalties with relative ease as their penalty kill continues to stay red hot. The Hawks ended up killing off all 6 penalties that they took in the game.

The third period evened out a little bit more compared to the second, but the Wings still controlled most of the play. Once the third began, you could definitely tell that the Blackhawks were fatigued from their game in Columbus on Saturday night. Johan Franzen scored 4:30 into the period to tie the game at one. The Blackhawks clearly had no legs under them and just couldn’t seem to skate the puck into Detroit’s zone, which resulted in a lot of play down by Crawford. Once they ended up getting it into Detroit’s zone, the Hawks couldn’t generate much offense. About 11:30 into the third, Jonathan Ericsson took a holding penalty on Jonathan Toews that gave the Hawks their second powerplay of the game. Even with the man advantage, the Blackhawks still struggled to get any kind of offense going and came up empty. Around a minute after that powerplay ended, Henrik Zetterberg was called for holding Jonathan Toews, again. This time around, the Hawks got a little bit more offense going and a couple shots on Howard, but again didn’t score. The game headed to overtime tied at 1.

In overtime, a nice rush into the Detroit end led by Viktor Stalberg resulted in Nick Leddy getting a snap shot by Jimmy Howard for the game winner. It was Leddy’s first goal of the year, and it gave the Blackhawks their 6th straight victory to being the season. This is the first time in franchise history that the Blackhawks have started a season 6-0.

While the Hawks clearly did not have the energy or strength in them that they had through their first 5 games, they still managed to find a way to win. This was the type of game that they would have almost certainly lost in either of the past 2 seasons. For whatever reason, they just seem to have found another gear this year and are playing with incredible confidence, speed, and skill.

They will need all of the speed and skill they can get in the next 2 weeks as they head out west on a 6-game road trip that takes them to Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose, and Phoenix. While the Hawks are currently 4-0 on the road, these next 6 games will be a huge test for them and a great evaluation of where they are at compared to some of the best teams in the Western Conference.

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