Forget December 25th, Christmas Day came a little bit later for hockey fans. Saturday, January 19th saw the return of the NHL after a lengthy and dramatic lockout and 13 games were played that day. Among them was a matchup between the reigning Stanley Cup champs, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Coming into a shortened season with only a 6-day training camp, predicting how each game will go becomes nearly impossible. And certainly the outcome of Kings home opener was not what most people would have expected.
Before the game, it was all about L.A., as the team raised their banner and received their championship rings. But once the first period was underway, the Kings got lost in the midst of the Blackhawks’ offense, as Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Michael Frolik all scored to take a 3-0 lead.
Kane’s goal (the very first goal of the NHL season!) was a beauty of a slapshot, assisted by Hossa, and came on a Blackhawks powerplay 3 minutes in. Halfway through the period, Hossa netted a goal of his own, which was followed up shortly by Frolik’s wrister.
The Hawks continued to pad their lead just minutes into the second, as Jonathan Toews took a feed from Kane and got himself on the scoreboard, despite suffering from the lingering after-effects of a flu.
As the period closed out, the Kings’ Rob Scuderi finally managed to beat Corey Crawford and get his team on the board.
Midway through the third, Matt Greene’s shot was tipped in by Jordan Nolan, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead in half, but the Kings’ celebration was short-lived. Hossa scored his second of the night 15 seconds after Nolan’s goal, and Chicago emerged victorious, with a final score of 5-3.
In the battle of the goaltenders, Crawford was a little more akin to a Stanley Cup champion than Jonathan Quick was, making 19 saves.
The very next day the Blackhawks were in the desert, looking to go 2 and 0 against the Phoenix Coyotes.
David Moss opened up the scoring for the Coyotes at the 3-minute mark (at almost the same time that Kane scored his first goal the day before) but another Dave (Bolland) tied the game 10 minutes later on a Blackhawks powerplay. The score remained even throughout the initial frame.
After winning a faceoff Antoine Vermette picked up a rebound and scored the go-ahead goal for the Coyotes, early in the second. But on an ensuing play 5 minutes later, Bolland fed the puck from the perfect spot, and Patrick Sharp caught it with perfect timing, to once again tie the game.
As the second period was coming to an end, Marian Hossa was sent to the box for slashing. The Hawks made it through the penalty without letting in a goal, and as soon as Hossa got out of the box he was off on what would have been a spectacular breakaway, had he not been stopped by Mike Smith at the other end. Hossa made up for his shortcomings, however, just minutes later with a wrister that found its way to the back of the Coyotes net.
Oh, but it didn’t end there. A third unanswered Blackhawks goal came 50 seconds later courtesy of Viktor Stalberg and Chicago found themselves with a 2-goal lead as they headed into the final period.
The ‘Yotes barely had time to adjust themselves to the ice in the third as Marian Hossa again found the back of the net –this time 14 seconds into the frame– with a controversial goal that was deemed good upon review.
Not long after, Phoenix narrowed the deficit with a goal by Martin Hanzal. Then the captain Shane Doan, on a clutch play, buried the puck past Ray Emery less than a minute after, slimming the Blackhawks’ lead to 1. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, David Bolland and Patrick Sharp decided to team up again on a perfectly-timed shot and brought their team back up by 2.
3 goals in 1.12 minutes. Needless to say, the offense in this game was a bit stronger than the defense, on both ends of the ice. Chicago came away with the 6-4 win.
Opening weekend was a success for the Chicago Blackhawks, especially for Marian Hossa, who now leads the league in scoring with 4 goals under his belt.
Next up for the Blackhawks is their home opener on Tuesday, January 22nd against the St. Louis Blues.
About the Author
Written by Anna Santiago
26-year old sports writer from Calgary, Alberta. A hockey and basketball lover above all.