Hawks overcome shaky start, beat Leafs
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville called the Toronto Maple Leafs a "dangerous team" Wednesday before the two teams met at the United Center.
The way things started, the most clear and present danger facing the Hawks were the Hawks themselves.
But they recovered after a shaky first period to rally from a 3-1 deficit and beat the Leafs 5-4.
Marian Hossa scored 2 goals, including the game-winner and an empty-netter. Patrick Kane tied the game at 3-3 in the second period with a strong goal, and Nick Leddy had a pair of assists
The biggest concern for the Hawks was starting goaltender Corey Crawford, who was pulled after the first period in favor of Ray Emery after Crawford looked unsure on several shots.
The goaltender change, plus Marcus Kruger's goal in the final 30 seconds of the first period, keyed the turnaround for the Hawks (34-24-7), who snapped a three-game losing streak.
"I think it was the goal at the end of the first, to be honest with you," said Kane, named the game's No. 1 star. "Making it 3-2 with 30 seconds left, you always stress the last minute of periods and the first minute of periods to try not give up a goal or to score a goal. It was a huge play and brought us within 1. After the first, we had a great second period, I thought."
Crawford has been pulled from his last 2 starts and from 7 this year. The struggling Maple Leafs scored their 3 goals on 10 shots in the first. Emery stopped 23 of 24 and got a big save from defenseman Sami Lepisto late in the game.
"You look back over the year, you get some goalie wins," Quenneville said. "I thought he was instrumental in us winning tonight."
Quenneville said he would "talk about" the goaltender for Friday's game at Ottawa, the start of a three-game trip.
"It was a tough first for us," Emery said. "As a guy coming off the bench, you just want to play solid and give the guys a chance to take games."
The Hawks had some new faces in the lineup. Quenneville said he liked the "jump" just-recalled forward Andrew Shaw gave the team. Shaw tied the game at 1-1 in the first and constantly pressured the Leafs. Brandon Bollig, making his NHL debut, had a nice scoring chance in the second and more than held his own in a scrap with Luke Schenn.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya recovered from a nightmarish start, as he was on the ice for the first 3 Leafs goals. Oduya played solidly for 40 minutes after that.
But most importantly, the Hawks got what they needed from star players Kane and Hossa. Kane fought off Carl Gunnarsson going to the net to tie the game in the second. Leddy and Kane controlled the puck nicely to set up Hossa in the slot for the eventual game-winner at 12:06 of the second.
"Kaner had an excellent game," Quenneville said. "I look back over the season, this game stands out as far as puck possession … Offensively, defensively, he had a real purpose. I like his leadership, as well."