Look out for Sidney’s weekly dispatches from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom every week during the hockey season.
It was right back to work for the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night. After raising their championship banner from 2013 in a pregame ceremony, the Hawks picked up where they left off from last season, prevailing in an 6-4 offensive showcase versus Eastern Conference title competitors, the Washington Capitals.
Opening up the season’s scoring was third-liner Brandon Bolig, who lit the net with the first regular season goal of his career at 4:06 in the first period, giving Chicago a 1-0 lead. Washington counter-attacked with its superstar Alex Ovechkin, who scored his first goal of what people are looking to be a big year for the former MVP. Ovie struck off a sweet pass from Niklas Backstrom at 10:42 to tie the score on the power play.
The Hawks responded with its own superstar, Patrick Kane, who nailed home the puck at 8:54 and gave the Hawks back the lead, giving the home team a 2-1 lead. As the second period began, the scoring affair continued and Washington’s Mikhail Grabovski introduced himself to the United Center crowd, netting his first of what would be an historic hat trick that evening, just under a minute after Kane’s, tying the score at 2-2.
Things see-sawed continuously throughout the second and third periods, with the Hawks re-gaining the lead and losing it to ties and even outright at one time. Brent Seabrook put the Hawks up 3-2 just before the second intermission but Grabovski cashed in his second score 59 seconds into the third period, the hat trick came at 5:16 and it seemed like the road team was ready to play big time spoiler on banner night.
But as they did so many times last year, the Hawks responded definitively by scoring three unanswered goals, coming from the hopeful second year phenom Brandon Saad (7:55), defenseman Johnny Oduya (13:53) and Marian Hossa finishing it off on an empty netter at 19:22 to make sure all the championship revelers went home happy.
As far as the starting goalies went, the Hawks’ Corey Crawford made 28 saves off 32 shots for a .875 save percentage. Crawford’s game was shaky at best but he made key saves at the end of the game, even with the Capitals on a 5-3 advantage because of Hawks penalties. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby kept up with Crawford most of the way but holding down the hot Hawks scorers was too much for him. Holtby collected 29 saves off 34 shots with a save percentage of .853.
The Hawks started off last year with a historic streak of 24 games unbeaten without a regulation loss, lets go ahead and start off the count for another streak, am I right? Not likely, but this season should still be very interesting and filled with exciting moments as this Hawks team retains a legitimate shot of winning the Stanley Cup again and becoming the first repeat champs since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings.
First, to the 22,158 sellout crowd at the United Center, the Chicago Blackhawks organization for displaying a first class event with the raising of the Blackhawks Championship Banner and the NBC Sports Network for broadcasting it.
Second, to the Hawks organization once again, for bringing out children from the youth hockey leagues in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Illinois to present the Hawks players with the championship banner — FIRST CLASS!
Third, to Saad for being named first star of the game with one goal and two assists.
Also of note, it was nice to see Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals back in Chicago for the first time since March 18, 2012. With the NHL’s new realignment and a new, complete season, all teams will visit each others opposing arenas at least once again. HOCKEY IS BACK!!!!
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