First Period Recap: The Ducks got the first chance of the game when Kyle Palmieri tagged the crossbar behind Corey Crawford. The rebound sprung Chicago the other way and Jonas Hiller made a good glove save on Kris Versteeg. From that point on, the Blackhawks did a much better job of controlling the puck and keeping the Ducks deep in their own zone. Early on Hiller had a little bit of trouble holding onto his rebounds, but it didn't cost him before he shook the rust off.
As a result of the Hawks' sustained pressure, Hampus Lindholm took a marginal hooking penalty. The best chance on the Chicago power play went for the Ducks though as Ryan Getzlaf skated through three Chicago defenders and nearly found Daniel Winnik open at the side of the net for a tap in. Andrew Shaw got called for interfering with Saku Kovu in the neutral zone to kill the rest of the penalty, BUT....
Marian Hossa opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal once Lindholm was released. Hossa went in on partial a 2-on-1 with Jonathan Toews. Matt Beleskey got back just enough to tie up Toews, but Hossa put an excellent shot through the legs of Cam Fowler and past Hiller to give Chicago the lead, slightly before the midway point of the period.
After seven more minutes of Chicago controlling play, Versteeg battled the puck to the front of the net through some less than stout defense and when, Beleskey tried to clear it up the middle, the puck banked off of Sami Vatanen’s skate and into the net. Bad bounce 2-0 Hawks.
With just over a minute left in the period the Ducks held in a clearing attempt by the hawks and Corey Perry was left all alone in front. The combination of a cross check from Michal Rozival and Corey Crawford’s poke check did just enough to impede Perry from scoring, so the Ducks went on their second PP of the game, which bled into the second period.
Second Period Recap: The Ducks couldn’t make anything from the remainder of the power play, but by virtue of holding the Hawks off the scoreboard it was better than their first extra man opportunity.
Shortly after the kill, Winnik had Mathieu Perreault open to the side of the net, but put too much on the cross ice pass so instead of a Grade A scoring opportunity Shaw was sent the other way on a rush, and was pulled down by Teemu Selanne. The Ducks had another shorthanded opportunity with a partial 2-on-1 between Nick Bonino and Getzy, they each got a shot on goal but couldn't beat Crawford. As the Hawks went the other way, Getz complained to the refs (shocking) about a hook that they missed and was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Ducks killed both penalties, with the most notable moment being an altercation between Toews and Francois Beauchemin in front of Hiller.
Chicago's best chance of the second came from Bryan Bickell in the slot off of a nice pass from Versteeg behind the net, but by that time, Hiller was much more on top of his game than at the start of the game.
By the midway point of the game it was clear the Hawks were just out to prove that they are a notch above the Ducks, faster, stronger more organized and more skilled. Anaheim was almost able to get some good turnovers and get behind the Chicago D, but there always seemed to be a stick in the way from a well positioned backchecker or defenseman..
The period ended with the Ducks being called for yet another penalty as Perry boarded Marcus Kruger. Chicago got Crawford off the ice for the extra skater, but couldn’t get anything going before the end of the period so the full two minute power play would carry over to the third.
Almost as the horn sounded Bickell collided with Versteeg behind the Ducks’ net. Versteeg was injured on the play and did not return to the game.
Third Period Recap: Seconds into the final frame, the Ducks dodged a bullet as Toews drove the net, but the dangerous chance went wide. For the rest of the kill the Ducks allowed shots, but kept them to the perimeter.
Ben Lovejoy made a great defensive play about four minutes in, to break up a 3-on-1, but got a little too eager trying to get the puck up ice to spring Perry, resulting in an icing call. This was a good example of how the Ducks just weren’t sharp enough in decision making and passing throughout the game.
The Ducks had a good chance just before the midway point of the third with Jacob Silfverberg and Fowler on the rush. Silf’s centering pass missed Cam at the top of the crease. As Chicago tried to clear, the puck bounced right to the Swedish forward in the middle of the ice, but Crawford cut off the angle, and made an easy save. If Silfverberg had passed to Fowler on the second chance it would have been much more dangerous, but he's a shooter, and at least they were starting to show some push back.
After that the game opened up a bit with the Ducks getting more chances, thanks to the D (primarily, Fowler, Lindholm and Vatanen) activating, but it ended up biting them as Bickell got around a flat footed Lovejoy for a partial break away. Hiller got his arm on the puck but it bounced over him and in. And with that, the Hawks seemed to have it pretty much wrapped up.
HOWEVER...The Ducks got one back on a 3-on-1 break with Getzlaf, Perry and Palmieri against Johnny Oduya who slid to block the passing lane. Getzlaf held up and ripped the puck off the post and in with just over six minutes remaining to make it 3-1
Only 53 seconds later Palmieri was given way too much room by the Chicago D as he entered the zone and he just took the shot he was given, slipping it through Crawford’s five hole. That goal, which Crawford definitely would want back, made it 3-2 and forced Joel Quenneville to call his timeout.
It worked as the Hawks got two decent scoring chances immediately after the timeout and got back to holding the puck in the zone for a couple of extended shifts.
The Ducks had a few flurries in the zone in the waning minutes, the best of which was Dustin Penner pulling Crawford waaaaaaaay out of his crease, but his pass to Vatanen was broken up by a nice stick play by Brandon Saad. Otherwise Sami would have had an empty net to shoot at, and we probably would have seen some extra hockey.
The refs put the whistles away in the last two minutes, Hiller was pulled but the only result was Hossa sealing the victory with an empty netter for the 4-2 final.
The Good: Even though they were outplayed for the vast majority of the game, the Ducks had some quality chances early on to get game changing goals, unfortunately the one that went in didn't arrive until the end of the third period. Also the penalty kill kept the Ducks in the game, going 5-for-5 against the high powered Blackhawk attack, and even generated some of Anaheim's best offensive chances of the game..
The Bad: Chicago was quite simply the better team in this game. Simple as that. If the Ducks had put one of their aforementioned chances away in the first or second period things could have been different, but the Hawks came out faster got the lead and drove it home, with a short lull at the end.
The Ugly: The passing by the Ducks throughout the game was really unacceptable. It was partially brought on by the strong positional play and stick work of the Hawks. Beyond that however, it was sloppy and hopeful at best leading to turnovers up and down the ice as well as a lot of missed connections for icing calls as they got more impatient and tried to push the play forward.
3rd Icehole: Duncan Keith - In honor of Chicago's really impressive speed on the blueline, overall team defense and ability to pin the Ducks in their own zone for multiple shifts at a time.
Next Game: Tomorrow! Saturday, January 18th at 5PM at the St. Louis Blues