CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks made their intentions clear Tuesday morning.
They wanted to spoil the Chicago Blackhawks' homecoming party by becoming the first team to beat the NHL's hottest team in regulation when the two met at a raucous United Center on Tuesday night. In the end, the visitors accomplished half of their goal.
The Blackhawks (10-0-3) still haven't been defeated in regulation, but did lose 3-2 to the Ducks in a shootout – after Anaheim tied it on a late goal in the third by Andrew Cogliano and then killed off two Chicago power plays in OT to force the breakaways contest that decided it. Corey Perry's goal in the shootout was the clincher for Anaheim (9-2-1), which also got a marker by Nick Bonino.
"I think it was just fitting for the kind of night we had," Cogliano said of his goal, which came with just 2:40 left in regulation after
he tipped a point shot by Ben Lovejoy that followed a Blackhawks' turnover in the defensive zone. "I was at the right place at the right time. We didn't agree with the second [Chicago] goal. That was a tough pill to swallow, but the main thing is we kept going and got [the win]."
The goal Cogliano referred to was scored by Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad midway through the second period for a 2-1 Chicago lead that nearly stood up as the game-winner. After being checked and losing his balance, Saad fired a puck from the left circle while in mid-air that bounced off the back of Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth (28 saves) and headed toward the goal line.
A video review from Toronto determined the puck actually did cross the line before the net was knocked off the moorings during the ensuing scramble, which upset the spoiler-minded Ducks and gave a big lift to the Blackhawks – who played their first home game since coming back from an impressive six-game road trip. The Blackhawks appeared in control for much of the third period despite the narrow one-goal lead thanks in large part to another great performance by goalie Corey Crawford (29 saves) – who made several highlight-worthy stops to keep Anaheim off the board.
His most memorable came late in the first, when he made a dazzling glove save from close range to stop Perry following a turnover behind the net.
Still, it was a frustrating night for the Blackhawks overall. They went just 1-for-6 on the power play and only got one goal in the shootout, scored by captain Jonathan Toews.
"We're up with a couple minutes left and we just get a bad bounce and they tie it," Crawford said. "Then it was another rough one in the shootout. I felt good but it just seems like I've got to bear down a little bit more in the shootouts."
Nick Leddy also scored in regulation for Chicago, just 28 seconds before Saad's marker in the second, while Ryan Getzlaf added the Ducks' first goal just 3:33 into the second to cap a power play.
After a scoreless first period filled with impressive saves by both goalies, Getzlaf was credited for Anaheim taking a 1-0 lead – but he was actually looking to zip a pass across the crease to the back side of the net for Perry. Instead, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook got his stick on the puck and deflected it past Crawford.
It took a little less than seven minutes for Chicago to respond, but when it happened it was loud and furious.
Leddy's second goal of the season 17 seconds into a power play knotted it 1-1, but it was the sequence leading up to the advantage that got the home fans riled up. After Blackhawks power forward Bryan Bickell leveled Getzlaf in the corner of the Ducks zone, Anaheim enforcer Brad Staubitz went right after him and started throwing punches.
Each was assessed a fighting major, but Staubitz was given an instigating minor and a 10-minute misconduct to put the Blackhawks on the power play and set up Leddy's momentum-changing goal. Saad's goal really turned the tide and not even back-to-back penalties to Johnny Oduya and Michael Frolik less than two minutes afterward could slow the surge.
Despite two good penalty killers in the box, Chicago showed why it's leading the League in penalty killing by thwarting the Ducks' 5-on-3 advantage, spurred by great efforts from Crawford, Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger.
Fasth, meanwhile, matched Crawford save for save. It continued a blistering start to the 30-year old Swedish rookie's NHL career. Fasth, who's filling in for injured starter Jonas Hiller, improved to 6-0-0 after coming into the game with a 1.72 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
"You always work hard to get to play and when you play you work hard to try to get the wins," Fasth said of his fast start. "I don't take anything for granted and I've got to work hard every day to get my chances and play when the coach wants me to play."
Asked earlier in the day what part of Fasth's story was most impressive, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau wasted no time in answering.
"[It's] that he's 30 and played in Sweden and no one ever heard of him is probably the best part … including me before the start of the season," Boudreau said. "I didn't know what we were getting. His demeanor is so calm and he settles everything down when he's on top of his game. He instills confidence in the players in front of him."
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