Blackhawks @ Devils: that was SOMETHING

and this time, something GOOD. I don't know why Chicago had a "series" (2 games is a series?) with New Jersey, but they did; one home and one away game. (so every team plays every team from the other conference at least once, and three of those teams twice? how does the NHL decide who they play twice?) Blackhawks had a fantastic 5-1 New Year's Eve win over Devils at the United Center; this game was much more in doubt.

NJD took an early lead with Ilya Kovalchuk's 40th goal of the season. I didn't watch the game as closely as I should have because the WGN radio commentators made it sound a bit...boring. but they were entertaining as always...suggesting late in the game that the Hawks maybe mix it up a bit with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond ("I said I'd only say his whole name once in the broadcast") and get roughing minors to play 4-on-4. also, Burger King gives a free Icee the next day if the Blackhawks win, and I swear they said "a free icing."

I tried to stay optimistic. down 1-0 near the end, Blackhawks went with 6 attackers. I was about to comment "why can't the Hawks ever have one of those dramatic last-second winning or tying goals?" when BOOM, Versteeg tied it with 26 seconds left. the many, many game thread and Twitter comments to jinx Martin Brodeur getting his 109th shutout--even the official Blackhawks Twitter joined in, and so many people in Chicago did it that "shutout" and "Brodeur" were trending topics--hey, that worked!

nothing in overtime, so it went to shootout, where Toews scored and Kovalchuk (his first SO try with the Devils) didn't, and the Hawks won! a great game from Antti Niemi, good enough that both the Blackhawks site and main NHL page used "Antti-dote" (which I may have complained about the first time anyone used it, but I don't mind...)

THAT is a great Toews-face. I may be the only Blackhawks fan blog neglecting the Toews-face (Seabrook has some funny ones too) this

I'm with the WGN guy in not understanding why the losing team gets 2 of the 3 stars of the game...and though Brodeur made some great saves, Niemi made more and won the shootout, you know...

a few notable things about this game: it was the first game John Madden, longtime Devil, played in New Jersey since joining the Blackhawks. the Devils website had a story about him. Patrick Kane is now 4 games without a point; he'd only gone 3 games without a point this season, and that was early October. this was one of the only games Devils lost this year while leading after two periods. this was the Blackhawks' first win in NJ since Dec. 1997. and as alluded earlier, there were few penalties. actually, no penalties in the entire 65 minutes of play. (which isn't to say there weren't actions that might have been called as penalties...) Blackhawks had one game without taking penalties this season (the awful loss to the Islanders), but this is the first NHL game with NO penalties since 2001. LOOK AT THIS BOXSCORE!

if it hadn't gone to shootout, the entire boxscore would have been quite minimal, since there were only the two goals. the recap didn't say how long it'd been with a penalty-free game, but this Star-Ledger piece (linked on Puck Daddy) said it was "the first penalty-free game in Devils history and the first in the NHL since the Bruins and Maple Leafs met in Toronto on March 3, 2001." (a Bruins-Leafs game was penalty-free?! Bruins won it 3-0.) were they being a little too nice for Good Friday or something?  not at all in the spirit of the 1984 Good Friday brawl between the Quebec Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens...and by the way, I'm amused that my prior post had possibly the longest penalty list in a hockey game this season!


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