[January 18, 2014]CHICAGO — Just when things were
starting to look pretty dismal, with six losses in their previous 10
games, the Chicago Blackhawks bounced back to play like the defending
Stanley Cup champions they are, stopping the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 at the
United Center on Friday.
Forward Marian Hossa scored two goals, and wingers Kris Versteeg
and Bryan Bickell added goals as the Blackhawks topped what had been
the NHL's hottest team.
"We knew we were facing the hottest team in the league and we knew
how good they are, how talented they are," Hossa said. "They have
the best line in the league and we knew we had to stop it somehow. I
thought we did an excellent job."
Chicago (31-8-11) snapped Anaheim's eight-game winning streak,
handing the Ducks (36-9-5) only their second loss in the last 20
games. To put that in better perspective, it was only the Ducks'
second loss since Dec. 3, the other defeat coming Dec. 29 at San
"I'm disappointed every time you don't win," Ducks coach Bruce
Boudreau said. "To say, 'well it had to happen (snapping the winning
streak),' well, it doesn't have to happen. Every day is a new day.
But we didn't come ready to play, to meet them."
It was Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller's first loss after a
career-high and team record 14 straight wins — second-most in NHL
history. Even so, Hiller is still an outstanding 23-4-4 for the
"I think it was definitely not our best game," Hiller said. "I
thought we just didn't work enough, especially the first two
periods. If you play a team like the Blackhawks, you can't just try
to work for half a period or one period and hope you win. It's just
disappointing to lose. If we played our best, we definitely have a
good chance, but we can't just rely on talent."
It was a very pivotal game for Chicago, which came into Friday
having lost four of its previous five and six of 10.
"I thought we had a great start, we played the way we wanted to
play, everybody contributed and had a real good purpose, it seemed
every shift," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we
approached the game in the right way.
"We've had a couple of games that were ordinary, but I think the
last three games here at home (2-0-1) for this homestand, we
validated our game back to the way we started the season. We played
fast and the right way and I think you would say we're back on
Chicago took an early lead midway through the first period when
Hossa tallied his 18th goal of the season, a wrist shot past Hiller
at 10:34. Hossa's goal came in a short-handed situation, with center
Andrew Shaw in the penalty box for interference. It was Hossa's 28th
career short-handed goal, most among all active players in the NHL.
To further illustrate the significance of Hossa's goal, Chicago is
now 24-0-5 when it scores first this season.
With just under three minutes left in the first period,
Versteeg was in the right place at the right time, making it 2-0
in favor of Chicago. Ducks center and captain Ryan Getzlaf
couldn't get a handle on a loose puck that caromed off his stick
and right in front of Versteeg, who pounced and quickly lifted a
backhander past Hiller.
It was Versteeg's ninth goal of the season and 99th of his NHL
However, later in the game, Versteeg suffered a lower-body
injury and didn't return for the remainder. He will undergo an
exam Saturday to determine the extent of the injury, Quenneville
Bickell's seventh goal of the season at 10:13 of the third
period proved to be the deciding tally.
Anaheim didn't give up, however, as Getzlaf scored his 24th goal
of the season at 13:47. Ducks center Kyle Palmieri followed to
bring his team to within one goal, sending a 35-foot wrist shot
past Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford for his ninth goal less
than a minute later at 14:40.
"All of a sudden, it was 3-2 and anything can happen at the end,
but we got out of this one," Quenneville said.
With Hiller pulled to provide the Ducks an additional forward,
Hossa added an empty-net goal with eight seconds left to seal
Crawford (18-7-7) stopped 19 of Anaheim's 21 shots, his first
win after five straight defeats since returning from a nearly
one-month layoff from a lower-body injury earlier this month.
Hiller stopped 30 of Chicago's 34 shots.
It was Chicago's first win at home against the visiting and
Western Conference rival Ducks since Dec. 16, 2011.
NOTES: Attendance was 22,064, fourth-largest of the season for
the Blackhawks. Two of those four crowds have been for games
against the Ducks. ... Chicago's hosts Boston on Sunday, then
has back-to-back road games at Detroit and Minnesota on Jan. 22
and 23. ... Anaheim wraps up its brief two-game road trip
Saturday at St. Louis before hosting Winnipeg on Tuesday. ...
Chicago RW Patrick Kane is in a significant slump, not having
scored a goal in his last nine games. Kane's last goal was Dec.
28 at St. Louis. ... Also having cooled off quite a bit is LW
Patrick Sharp. Although he has 14 goals and 11 assists in his
previous 18 games, Sharp has not scored a goal since he recorded
a hat trick six games ago. ... Anaheim has done an outstanding
job in keeping players fresh despite having lost 233 man-games
to injuries thus far this season, one of the highest marks in