The Blackhawks were looking to make a statement Friday night against the red-hot Anaheim Ducks.
They can consider their mission accomplished.
The Hawks cooled off Anaheim, ending the Ducks' eight-game winning streak, with a 4-2 victory at the United Center.
It was only Anaheim's second loss in the last 20 games and brought the Hawks within 4 points of the first-place Ducks in the Western Conference standings.
The message the Hawks delivered was this: We're still the Stanley Cup champions.
Anaheim finished with just 21 shots on goal. The Ducks rallied from a 3-0 deficit to make a game of it in the third period, but Marian Hossa's second goal of the game into an empty net with eight seconds to play finally decided it.
Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell also scored for the Hawks.
"We knew this was a big weekend for us with Anaheim tonight and Boston on Sunday and it's nice to get the first one," Bickell said.
"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. We know we got scored on the last few minutes, but we still got the 2 points, which is important."
For the first time in six games the Hawks took a lead, getting out of the first period ahead 2-0 on goals by Hossa and Versteeg.
"I thought we had a great start," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we played the way we wanted to play and everybody contributed and had a real good purpose, it seemed every shift."
Bickell's goal at 10:13 of the third period had the Hawks cruising 3-0 until Ryan Getzlaf scored with 6:13 to play. Kyle Palmieri scored with 5:20 left on a shot that went through Corey Crawford -- which he no doubt would like back.
"Basically for 54 minutes we played the way we wanted to play," Quenneville said.
Crawford made 19 saves to win for the first time since Nov. 29.
Versteeg had to leave the game after two periods with an upper body injury after colliding with Bickell behind the net. The Hawks will know more about Versteeg's condition Saturday.
Hossa scored his 18th goal short-handed at 10:34 on a nice passing play with Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
It was the first time the Hawks took a lead in a game since their Jan. 3 win at New Jersey.
It looked as if the period might end 1-0 when Versteeg scored a fluky goal at 17:06. He somehow got the puck past goalie Jonas Hiller despite being surrounded by three Ducks.
"I didn't think the first two periods were very good at all," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Granted, they made us look bad by playing well, but we weren't very good I didn't think.
"I'm disappointed every time you don't win. To say, well it had to happen. Well, it doesn't have to happen. Every day is a new day. But we didn't come ready to play, to meet them."
The Hawks outshot Anaheim 15-8 in the first period, but Crawford had to make a big stop on Corey Perry with just over a minute to play.
The Ducks had only 4 shots in a scoreless second period.
"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."
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