Marian Hossa was flashing that mobility, the strength and the hands that, when he’s healthy and at his best, are such staples to his game. Not feeling those 35 years at all, right?
“Some games I do, some games I don’t,” Hossa said with a laugh.
On Friday night, we’ll go with “no.”
Hossa scored twice, a short-handed goal to start it and an empty-netter to end it, as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 at the United Center. It was the first time the Blackhawks beat the Ducks in their last six meetings, and outside of a late gaffe or two, one of the team’s most complete games this month. The Blackhawks snapped the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak and pulled to within four points of them in the Western Conference.
Kris Versteeg scored his ninth goal of the season but did not finish the game. Coach Joel Quenneville said Versteeg is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He collided with linemate Bryan Bickell at the end of the second period, went down and was slow to get up. Versteeg went off under his own power but did not come back for the third period.
For Hossa, it was his 77th career multi-point game. The Blackhawks right wing, who turned 35 earlier this month, took Thursday’s practice off for “maintenance.” It ended up being a good call; Hossa looked strong, fast and, well, typical Hossa.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I didn’t skate for a couple days and felt I had some energy and jump.”
Quenneville said that was evident from the start.
“He had some great wheels. He was flying,” he said of Hossa. “He was dangerous. He protected the puck well and he was a threat every time he touched it or hit the ice.”
The Blackhawks wanted to start quickly against the Ducks, and they did. Their pace was reminiscent of their November and December game, as was their first-period domination on the ice and the scoreboard.
“It’s something we talked about: put he pressure on them,” Duncan Keith said. “We know they’ve been playing a lot of great hockey as of late. We just wanted to play our game and use our speed, and I thought we did that tonight.”
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead thanks to Hossa and Versteeg’s first-period goals. Bickell added his much-needed seventh of the season, a wrist shot that bounced off and over Jonas Hiller for a 3-0 advantage. It was Bickell’s first goal in his last 11 games.
But much like past games, the Ducks weren’t done. The Blackhawks had a sloppy moment or two, and the Ducks turned it into goals; Ryan Getzlaf scored on a 3-on-1 with just over six minutes remaining in regulation and Kyle Palmieri added one about two minutes to cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
“We looked like we forgot the history lesson against this team. Something goes wrong late in games and all of a sudden it’s 3-2,” Quenneville said. “But we got out of this one. For the other 54 minutes, we played the right way.”
Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 21 for his first victory since November.
“It was definitely nice to get back to winning ways,” he said. “I never got frustrated; none of our guys did. We just focused on what we’re doing. It was a little too close at the end. But it was good for two points to beat that team.”
The Blackhawks looked more like themselves on Friday night, beating a team that’s taken them out of their comfort zone in many of their recent games. They looked re-energized. So did Hossa.
“I thought we did good things defensively; we didn’t give them much until late,” Hossa said. “It’s nice to beat a hot team like that in our building. It was definitely a big two points.”