The Chicago Blackhawks improved to 45-20-5 on the season after an in impressive 2-1 road win over the Senators, who fall to 39-23-7. Chicago now leads the Central Division by three points over Minnesota, while Ottawa sits in second in the Atlantic by one point to Montreal.
After what was likely considered the most boring Blackhawks game of the season initially, this one became a frenzy in the waning moments. The first two periods of play were scoreless, due to mostly solid defense and excellent goaltending on both sides. Shot totals were 22-21 in favor of Chicago at that point. Then came period three. Both sides exchanged scoring opportunities with no result, until Chicago finally broke through. Duncan Keith fired a one-timer from the right point that was initially saved by goaltender Mike Condon, but was then directed back through his legs and into the net off an Ottawa player (8:04 – Panarin). The Blackhawks took the lead but it would not last long. Brent Seabrook would be called for tripping at 11:11, and Ottawa made quick work of their power play. Kyle Turris cashed in from the left point with a one-timer that beat Scott Darling through a screen (11:23 – Karlsson, Hoffman). The game was now even again like it had been for most of the night. Ottawa was then called for a pair of penalties at 14:15 and 15:52, by Derick Brassard and Marc Methot respectively. The penalties included a brief 5-on-3 opportunity for the Blackhawks, but Ottawa was able to kill it. Then in the final moments of the Methot penalty, Patrick Kane circled behind the net and found Richard Panik sitting alone to the right of Mike Condon. Kane’s pass was perfect and Panik buried his shot over the top of Condon who was down before the shot (16:59 – Kane, Toews). The Hawks regained the lead and would hold off Ottawa for the remainder of it.
Another impressive road win for Chicago, and their 15th victory in their last 18 games played impressively. Chicago has control of their own destiny for the remainder of the season, so it will be even more interesting to see if coach Joel Quenneville decides to take his foot off the pedal and rest his veterans at some point.
The Blackhawks head to Toronto for a matchup with the Maple Leafs on Saturday at 6:00 pm CST. Ottawa hosts Montreal at the same time on Saturday night.
Hold on tight folks. Things are about to get even more exciting.
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