"It doesn't seem real yet," said Darling, 25, who grew up in
nearby Lemont, Ill., and rooted for the Blackhawks as a child. "It
hasn't really set in."
Maybe someday, it will.
Darling turned aside 32 of 33 shots to lift the Blackhawks to a 2-1
win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night in front of a sellout
crowd of 21,310. He pumped his fists as the horn sounded to end the
game, and teammates swarmed him with congratulations.
The Blackhawks (5-2-1) snapped a two-game losing streak with the win
and improved to 4-0-1 on home ice. The Senators (4-2-1) lost in
regulation for the first time since their season opener Oct. 9 at
Nashville and remained winless at the United Center in their last
six chances, a streak dating to March 28, 2001.
Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and defenseman Brent Seabrook
scored for Chicago, which peppered Senators goaltender Craig
Anderson with 45 shots. Senators left winger Milan Michalek scored
the lone goal against Darling, a former Nashville Predators prospect
who signed with the Blackhawks this summer after an impressive
season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean praised Anderson and the penalty-killing
unit for keeping the Senators in the game. The Senators committed
eight penalties overall and allowed six power plays against the
Blackhawks, who converted once for the go-ahead goal.
"At the end of the game, we had a push in the third period -- on the
road, in a tough building, on a back-to-back game," MacLean said.
"We lost, so we're disappointed, but at the same time, we should be
able to take some positives out of it."
The biggest positive for the Blackhawks was the performance Darling,
who earned the call-up after No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford was
sidelined by an upper-body injury. Darling said 20 to 30 friends and
family members were in attendance for his debut.
"He was rock-solid," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
"Excellent start to his career here at the NHL level. He was big. We
needed him early in the game. He was settled down, he was patient.
He was big, controlled his rebounds, handled the puck well, moved
extremely fast and quick. Real big game for him and for us as well."
After a scoreless first period, Toews opened the scoring 21 seconds
into the second period with a wraparound goal. Toews carried the
puck from left to right behind the net and swept it across the goal
line before a diving Anderson could recover.
"I've got to be a little more patient on that first one," Anderson
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Less than 90 seconds later, Anderson saved Ottawa from a two-goal
deficit when he stopped Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw on a penalty
shot. Anderson angled his body to stop a rising shot by Shaw, who
was awarded the penalty shot after he was hauled down on a
The Senators evened the score at 1 on a short-handed goal by
Michalek with 12:52 remaining in the second period. Michalek skated
down the right side of the ice on a 2-on-1 break with right winger
Alex Chiasson, who slid a backhand pass to his teammate for the
The Blackhawks regained a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal by Seabrook
with 6:22 to go in the second period. Seabrook's slap shot beat
Anderson, who was screened in front of the net by left winger Bryan
"I liked our resiliency in the third to push back and come out with
some fight and give ourselves an opportunity to tie it up," Anderson
said. "We came close, but it just wasn't in our luck tonight."
Blackhawks C Patrick Kane notched his 500th career point with an
assist on Toews' goal. Kane, 25, smiled as teammates patted him on
helmet for reaching the milestone in 523 career games.
"It's pretty cool," Kane said. "It's been a great run here in
Chicago from the time I've been here."
NOTES: Blackhawks G Corey Crawford (upper body) will be re-evaluated
this week, coach Joel Quenneville said. Crawford missed his fourth
consecutive game. ... Senators G Craig Anderson made his first start
since Oct. 16 in place of Robin Lehner, who started Saturday against
New Jersey. ... Blackhawks RW Jeremy Morin replaced LW Daniel
Carcillo (lower body) in the lineup. Carcillo could be sidelined for
a month because of the injury that he sustained Saturday at St.
Louis, Quenneville said. ... Senators D Jared Cowen was scratched
for the fifth consecutive game in favor of D Patrick Wiercioch. ...
Blackhawks D David Rundblad played in place of D Michal Rozsival,
who was a healthy scratch.
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