The Chicago Blackhawks struggled on defense to begin this game, but proved themselves worthy in the end by winning, 5-4, in overtime. My prediction was dead on (it was all luck, though) from my previous article: Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: An Original Six Showdown in Toronto.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had some lucky goals (like my lucky prediction) to start the contest. However, as the game progressed, so did the 'Hawks offence. Patrick Sharp put in two goals, and the 'Hawks found themselves with a four all tie after a Patrick Kane and Ben Eager goal.
Even though Kris Versteeg didn't add to his goal count. Versteeg did assist with Kane's goal making his point count: 20. That makes him the leader among rookies in the league, passing over Calder Cup rival nominee Derick Brassard.
The 'Hawks and the Leafs both had three power plays, and one power play goal each. Sharpie's goal was during the power play, and for the Leafs it was Matt Stajan, his sixth of the season.
The 'Hawks starting goalie was not Cristobal Huet, but was in fact Nikolai "Bulin Wall" Khabibulin. Khabi started off the game with mediocre play, with the exception of saving Stajan's penalty shot during the first period.
Tonight the 'Hawks proved that they can truly play under pressure after trailing by four goals in a "Circus Trip" game. I am liking the circus more each day.
Joel Quenneville switched up the lines a bit tonight by swapping Toews with Sharp for a few line changes. I thought it added some more physicality into the first line; similar to what Ben Eager did when he was in the first line. I liked the move.
With the exception of an assist, the 'Hawks defense did a fine job stopping the Leaf's center Mikhail Grobovski.
Three Stars of the Game
1. No. 26 David Bolland—Chicago Blackhawks
2. No. 10 Patrick Sharp—Chicago Blackhawks (Why isn't he on the All-Star Ballot, again?)
3. No. 14 Mike Stajan—Toronto Maple Leafs
My Three Picks for Stars of the Game
1. No. 55 Ben Eager—Chicago Blackhawks (Eager scored the tying goal for the 'Hawks.)
2. No. 39 Nikolai Khabibulin—Chicago Blackhawks (Even though Nik allowed four goals, he had some pretty awesome saves!)
3. No. 19 Jonathan Toews—Chicago Blackhawks (He didn't score, but had a great defensive day.)
The Chicago Blackhawks will continue their "Circus Trip" in San Jose against the Sharks on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 9:30 PM CDT. The game will be televised on WGN where available (only in the Chicagoland area; it really should be nationally!).