Blackhawks outlast the Capitals, notch first win of the season - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks outlast the Capitals, notch first win of the season

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The 22,158 in attendance on Tuesday at the United Center will remember this night as a very special occasion. Banner nights can often feature a game that isn't very entertaining but this time that wasn't the case. In a contest which was fun to watch but not particularly well-played, the Blackhawks skated away with a 6-4 win over Washington.

It's difficult to win in the NHL without good goaltending. Taking careless penalties is also a way to not come away with a victory. In their first game of the season the Blackhawks overcame both obstacles and survived.

Corey Crawford did not begin the regular season the way he would have liked. Crawford was beaten to the glove and stick sides with shots he should have saved. Fortunately for Chicago, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby had an even worse performance. Johnny Oduya scored the game winner late in the third period on a shot that somehow went through Holtby.

On the positive side of the ledger, the third and fourth lines played well. Brandon Bollig scored his first NHL goal by keeping it simple. Bollig got to the net, had his stick on the ice and converted a rebound. Brandon Saad showed his hockey smarts on a few occasions and tied the score in the third frame with his first tally of the season. Saad scored off a nice feed from Michal Handzus after also going hard to the net and gaining good position on his check. The Hawks sophomore was credited with two assists as well.

Smart and simple hockey is always the best way to go but Patrick Kane did dazzle the crowd with a show of skill. Kane took a bouncing pass from Jonathan Toews who then helped distract Holtby. Kane did the rest as he fired a laser short side into the top corner of the net for Chicago's second goal.

Brent Seabrook was credited with the Hawks lone power play goal in the middle frame as he converted a Holtby rebound. The play was made off a nice give-and-go between Saad and Marian Hossa who were credited with assists. Hossa finished the scoring after he was tackled as he skated towards the Caps goal after they pulled Holtby. The puck never made it to the net but the correct call was made as Hossa was tripped and would have scored otherwise.

Crawford was strong when needed when the game was on the line in the final period during a 5-on-3 Washington power play. Defensively both teams struggled and the Chicago penalty killing unit was exposed by the Capitals power play as they scored three times with the man advantage.

Washington has players that can hit the net from the point, and the Chicago penalty killing unit was sagging in too much. The penalty killers allowed the Caps to take shots from close range and Crawford wasn't sharp. The result was three power play scores for the Caps to only one for the Blackhawks.

The defensive duo of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Oduya appeared to be in mid-season form. Both were a plus four on the evening and Oduya was credited with four blocked shots while Hjalmarsson had three.

Andrew Shaw and Bollig added some physicality with five hits each. Patrick Sharp, Hossa and Kane accounted for 15 of 34 shots on goal.

Shaw played on the second line in the second period for awhile as Handzus went to the dressing room after getting checked hard into the boards. Sharp and Hossa seemed to generate more scoring chances playing with Shaw than they did with Handzus. That might be a move Joel Quenneville makes sooner than later.

John McDonough, the President and CEO of the Blackhawks made an interesting remark during the pre-game ceremony. McDonough commented the Hawks were a humble and hungry group of players.

Although the game featured sloppy play the Hawks did show the hunger and the willingness to compete hard on a night full of distractions. Blackhawks fans should be hoping McDonough's comments ring true because if so, this group will be difficult to defeat once again.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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