After a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, the Blackhawks called upon Lemont, Illinois, native Scott Darling to man the crease for the first time in his NHL career against the Ottawa Senators Sunday night at the United Center.
At the other end of the ice, approximately 200 feet away, stood another home grown Chicago (Park Ridge, Illinois) goalie in Craig Anderson, who began his career with the Blackhawks, but has since found more success north of the border with the Senators. Fortunately for Blackhawks’ fans, on this particular night it was Darling and the Blackhawks that prevailed in a closely contested match by a score of 2 to 1.
After an unforgettable ceremonial face-off that honored children battling cancer (Sunday night was the Blackhawks’ Hockey Fights Cancer night), the Senators went right to work on the rookie Darling. However, Darling rose to the occasion and turned away at least three A+ scoring chances early in the first period. For the Blackhawks, Jeremy Morin led the charge, getting some good rubber on Ottawa’s Anderson before the first period ended with the score tied a zero.
All of the game’s scoring would take place in the second period, starting with a wraparound maneuver by Blackhawks’ Captain Jonathan Toews just 21 seconds into the period. The goal was Toews’ second of the season, with assists credited to Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane. Kane’s assist was the 500th point of his NHL career. Incredibly, in 523 games, Kane has 181 goals and 319 assists.
Approximately seven minutes later, the Senators took advantage of a broken play while shorthanded, when the referee appeared to get in the way of Brad Richards along the boards. This led to a three on one in which Darling had no chance of making a save after an excellent pass from Ottawa’s Alex Chiasson to Milan Michalek for the finish.
Thankfully, with the score now tied at one, the Blackhawks would redeem themselves on their next power play chance later in the second period. This time veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook launched a slap shot from the point that beat Anderson due in part to an excellent screen from power forward Bryan Bickell. The goal was Seabrook’s first of the season, with assists credited to Brad Richards and Marian Hossa, and put the Blackhawks ahead 2 to 1.
Heading into the third period, the Blackhawks had outshot the Senators by a margin of 34 to 17, but the game remained as close as ever. Finally, the Senators were forced to pull Anderson from goal for the extra attacker. Unfortunately for the visitors, the strategy did not pay off, and the Blackhawks held on for the victory.
In a game he will surely never forget, Darling was honored with first star of the game honors. Along with the honors came a live post game interview with the famed WGN TV. Not surprisingly, Darling humbly thanked his teammates and reflected upon how much of an honor it was to simply be a Blackhawk.
The Blackhawks (5-2-1) will lace up their skates again this Tuesday, October 28th, when they host the red hot Anaheim Ducks (7-2-0) at the United Center. Face-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised locally on Comcast Sports Net.
The Blackhawks’ Daniel Carcillo was a scratch on Sunday night after he appeared to suffer a lower body injury on Saturday night against the Blues. According to WGN TV, Carcillo is expected to miss at least four weeks. The news shouldn’t come as a shock to hockey fans since Carcillo’s career has been hampered by numerous injuries over the last couple years.