The goalie controversy continues in the Windy City after Nikolai Khabibulin was able to shutout the undefeated Edmonton Oilers. Joel Quenneville made a bold move by going with Khabibulin tonight after Huet's best game of the season versus the Vancouver Canucks in which he had 28 saves.
Khabibulin was not challenged nearly as much as he could have been, only seeing 22 shots. However, he made big saves when he had to. The goaltender was not the only reason why the Blackhawks were able to shut down the Oilers tonight. Special teams played a big role as well.
Patrick Sharp got the scoring going with a powerplay goal that was beautifully assisted by the captain, Jonathan Toews. Many have wondered if Sharp would be able to repeat his 30-goal season this year. Thus far, he has five goals, and a total of 10 points in the Hawks' seven games.
The Blackhawks' penalty kill was outstanding tonight. They were able to limit the Oilers' quality chances and created shorthanded scoring opportunities.
In one of those shorthanded opportunities, Brent Seabrook was able to net his second goal of the season on a terrific pass from Dave Bolland, which put the Hawks up 2-0 heading into the second period.
In the third period, the Hawks continued to dominate the game and got a goal from an unexpected person, Aaron Johnson. Johnson has only 8 goals in 150-plus games and was named the third star of the game.
Johnson has been a very steady defender for Chicago since his call up after the first game of the season. In his first 5 games with the Hawks, he has 3 points along with a plus-3.
The Hawks looked like the team that had been hyped as at the beginning of the season with strong special teams and good goaltending. Chicago was also able to keep their point streak alive, as they have not lost in regulation in their last five games.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Nikolai Khabibulin
2nd Star: Patrick Sharp
3rd Star: Aaron Johnson
Michael Wagner's Player of the game:
After every game I will chose a non "three star player" as my player of the game. Tonight, my player of the game is Dave Bolland. Bolland had a strong night on the penalty kill, including a beautiful assist on the shorthanded goal by Brent Seabrook.
The Blackhawks will lock horns with the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this season on Saturday at home in Chicago. I will have an in-depth breakdown of the game on Friday.