I mentioned in my last blog that "some would suggest" Marian Hossa (and Patrick Sharp) have been single handedly winning games for the Blackhawks.
On Monday night, there was no question.
The Hawks as a collective unit were average from start to finish against St. Louis on Monday night and still came away with a win, thanks to late game heroics from Marian Hossa in the 3rd period and Patrick Sharp in overtime.
The Blues played a perfect road game, taking a 1-0 lead at 9:57 of the 2nd period and sitting back in a shell the rest of the way. While the Hawks struggled to move the puck without Brian Campbell, the clock ticked away and things looked bleak at the United Center. "This game is over" comments started popping up on Twitter when David Perron scored his second goal of the game at 9:28 of the 3rd period to put the Blues up 2-0. Hossa had other ideas.
Hossa converted on the power play to cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:43 of the 3rd period, then scored a breathtaking between the legs goal while standing in the crease to tie the game at two shortly after.
The two goals were Hossa's sixth and seventh of the season. That's a goal per game for those keeping score at home.
Patrick Sharp scored the game winner in overtime off a perfect feed from Patrick Kane, and the Hawks once again walked away with two points that were in doubt for most of the night.
There seems to be a pattern forming here. Aside from the obvious scoring spree from Sharp and Hossa, the Hawks are winning games they really shouldn't be. The Blues, and especially goalie Jaroslav Halak, played great tonight. They were tight checking, smart, and played exactly how you have to if you want to beat the Hawks on the road. The fact that the Hawks overcame this is not just a sign that this team can stay afloat without Brian Campbell, but also that they might just be as good (or better) than last year once he returns and the team settles in.
Other things I saw in the game tonight:
-Marty Turco played great. The first goal was questionable, but the important thing is that he rebounded by immediately shutting down a breakaway about 30 seconds later. The Hawks' up tempo style thrives on momentum, and Turco seems to make big, momentum swinging saves. He did that tonight, and also made seven saves in the overtime period alone. Turco also made his presence felt with his passing, as his long feed to Brent Seabrook set up the first Blackhawks goal.
-Have to give credit where credit is due. Jassen Cullimore made the play that set up the game winner in overtime. If he can be "ok", I'm fine with him playing 3rd pairing minutes for the rest of the year. That's a big "if" though.
-Nick Boynton was solid tonight as well on the second pairing with Niklas Hjalmarsson. Nothing flashy, but in his role, you want to notice him as little as possible.
Next up, the Blackhawks face the Vancouver Canucks at home on Wednesday night. That's a stacked lineup and a good test for the Hawks. It will be interesting to see if Joel Quenneville decides to dress John Scott again for this one because of potential fights.
As crazy as these wins have been, the Hawks' 4-2-1 record puts them atop the Western Conference heading into Tuesday. Let's hope they make themselves comfortable in that position.
Blackhawks, Chicago Blackhawks, Joel Quenneville, Marian Hossa, Marty Turco, United Center
Chicago Blackhawks, Jaroslav Halak, Jassen Cullimore, Joel Quenneville, John Scott, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Marty Turco, Nick Boynton, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Twitter