Trying exceptionally hard to not use the word "wow" in any shape or form. Why? A peek at the shots on goal:
- First: 10-8, CHI
- Second: 15-4, CHI
- Third: 14-3, CHI
That's a 24-shot differential in favor of the defending Stanley Cup champions. Riding an eight-game winning streak.
Further, the Florida Panthers - losers of five straight - went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill while not receiving a single power play of their own. They may have been sloppy early, but the Chicago Blackhawks were certainly disciplined in all three zones throughout the evening.
What was a major key to success for the Cats? Throwing bodies. Lots of 'em: a 40-25 advantage in hits (7 apiece by David Booth and Jason Garrison) allowed Florida to generally remain in control along the boards, though by allowing 2 goals in the second frame an air of desperation took hold. Not to worry; Tomas Vokoun (37 saves)showed why he remains one of the best goaltenders in the world. As we've noted before, he's not making GM Dale Tallon's life heading into free agency any easier when channeling his All Star form.
Hats-off to coach Peter DeBoer, who once more kept the troops cool under intense fire.
Notes: FLA scorers: Booth, Clay Wilson, Marty Reasoner (on a spectacular shot to close out the first frame); assists to Michal Repik, Niclas Bergfors, Sergei Samsonov, Keaton Ellerby, Booth. CHI scorers: Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa; assists to Brian Campbell, Ryan Johnson, Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell. CHI starter Corey Crawford was yanked following the first period after allowing 3 goals on 8 attempts, the last of which came at 19:53; he was replaced by Marty Turco who stopped all 7(!) shots over the remaining forty minutes. Former Cat Michael Frolik had 5 shots but was generally invisible in 14:38 TOI. Patrick Sharp and Jonathon Toews fired 5 and 6 shots, respectively. Dmitry Kulikov was a pest all night, finishing with 6 hits while Joe Callahan and Mike Weaver each collected 3 blocked shots. Wilson's goal was his second in the NHL. Tim Kennedy had 5 hits in a surprising - the good kind - 14:30.