For the second time in four years, the Chicago Blackhawks finished their summer long celebration of the Stanley Cup championship by raising their banner in front of a sold out United Center crowd. However, unlike 2010, the Hawks continued the party by grabbing a season opening win against 2013 MVP Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
After the banner was raised to the rafters and the anthem was perfected once again, it was time for the Blackhawks to kick off their quest to become the first team to repeat in over a decade. There was certainly no Stanley Cup hangover tonight as the Hawks came out strong in the first period with a goal from Brandon Bollig, the first of his NHL career. But the Ovechkin and the Caps were not bothered by the early deficit and tried to spoil the Hawks night. After a two minute roughing penalty on Bollig, Ovechkin rifled a shot past Crawford, who had made a great save on him a few minutes before. The first time minutes of the game was an indicator of the type game the fans would see, a lot of offense and a lot of scoring.
Fast forwarding to the third period, the Capitals came out on a mission and scored two power play goals in the first six minutes to take the lead and silence the United Center crowd. Penalty killing was an issue for the Hawks as they allowed three goals on their first four kills. However a big kill at the end of the game would finish off the Capitals’ hope of stealing two points in Chicago.
Trailing with less then 15 minutes left in the third, Michal Handzus set up Brandon Saad perfectly for a game tying goal. Then moments later, Johnny Oduya put the Hawks ahead once again after Caps goalie, Braden Holtby let the puck sneak out of his glove and into the back of the net. But the Chicago did not make the victory easy in the final few minutes.
After Patrick Sharp took a questionable goalie interference penalty, rookie Joakim Nordstrom accidentally shot the puck over the glass and gave the Capitals a five-on-three for over a minute. But the struggling penalty rose to the challenge with the help of goaltender Corey Crawford and shut the door on a Capitals comeback. Marian Hossa added an empty net to give the Hawks a 6-4 victory.
Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane also started the season off strong with goals of their own earlier in the game. Being just the first game, it is certainly not time to get worried about anything but the Hawks penalty killing, which lost David Bolland and Michael Frolik, let up to many goals and will need improvement going forward.
Unike last year the Hawks will actually have a few days in between games and won’t play again until the Tampa Bay Lighting come to town on Saturday night. Puck drop set for 7:00 pm.