It’s just the first game without Artem Anisimov who suffered an ankle injury Tuesday night but you’d have to say Chicago’s Blackhawks have upped their game to the point where if someone can’t go, it’s next man in.
Such was the case on Thursday night in Ottawa where the Hawks and Senators played a defensive minded game for two periods despite 43 combined shots by the two. Chicago’s Duncan Keith (6) gave the visitors their first lead of the game roughly 8 minutes into the third. Ottawa countered a little over three minutes later on a power play goal by Kyle Turris and the score was even at 1. Late in the period, Marc Methot was called for slashing enabling Chicago a power play opportunity.
The Hawks didn’t let the opportunity elude them. Patrick Kane was parked behind the Senator net and found Richard Panik (18) for a one-timer and a Blackhawk lead. Scott Darling made the score stand up and pushed his record to 17-5-2 on the campaign. Darling made 33 stops on the night and lowered his GAA to 2.08 (tied for 2nd in the league with Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus) and his Save Percentage to .933 (tops in the league).
Darling has been friends with Ottawa’s netminder, Mike Condon for a number of years. Friendship aside, Darling was happy with the win. “”We’re great friends and we both want to win. I’m happy he played well but I’m happy we won.”
The victory pushed the Chicago lead over the Minnesota Wild to three points in the Central Division. The Wild lost to Carolina 3-1 on Thursday night.
There are now 12 games left in the regular season. Saturday night, Chicago travels to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs, who are making a valiant run for the playoffs. Currently they are the last qualifier in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning are right behind with 77. Sunday night Chicago is back home to take on the Colorado Avalanche.
Now is not a time for the faint of heart. Time is running out….
Chicago’s Marian Hossa who was drafted in the 1st round by Ottawa back in 1997 played in his 1,300 game Thursday night….Corey Crawford was ill which led to Scott Darling be in net Thursday evening.
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