Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
The Blackhawks came into tonight’s game in San Jose having lost in regulation just once since Oct. 30, going an absurd 8-1-1 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents — get this — 36 to 19. And the last three games of that stretch, in which they went 3-0-0 and outscored Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver 13 to 3, were on the road and in the space of four days.
And it still hadn’t gotten ridiculous. Not by a long shot.
Because tonight the Blackhawks, the team I called the best in the league just last week, got a player back from injury. One who hadn’t played all season. You might’ve heard of him. His name is Marian Hossa. Marian “40 goals in 74 games last year” Hossa.
And whose line did they put him on? Ah, it was Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Jonathan “34 goals as a 20-year-old” Toews and Patrick “70-plus points in each of his first two NHL seasons” Kane.
Things got out of hand. Fast.
Chicago’s first three goals were all shorthanded. Hossa had the second of those, and his was the first of two on the same penalty kill (Patrick Sharp had the other). At one point just over midway through the game, shots were 21-6 in favor of the visitors. San Jose had been through four power plays at that point and the best power play in the league was somehow minus-3 in goal differential.
Dustin Byfuglien added a fourth before the second ended. Brent Seabrook added a fifth early in the third. Hossa scored his second of the night exactly a minute later. John Madden tacked on the extra point with a little more than eight minutes to go.
The final score was 7-2, but it was like the Blackhawks kneeling it down in the end zone for a safety. They’d taken their foot off the gas to an hilarious extent. They’d gotten to the top of Everest, not only beating the team with the best record in the league at home (where, it should be noted, they had yet to lose in regulation), but thoroughly and completely humiliating them in every manner possible, so they decided to toboggan down because, well, why not? There’s no way to put any kind of positive spin on this for anyone anywhere in the league.
The Chicago Blackhawks are coming. And there is no chance for survival.
New Jersey 3, Ottawa 1
Patrik Elias scored tonight. It was his… wait, first goal? How can that be right? Oh, he’s only played eight games. Wait, really? It took him eight games to score a goal in the Eastern Conference? Jeez.
Philadelphia 2, New York Islanders 1
So as it turns out, the key to beating the Islanders in a tight game is to put FEWER than 61 shots on goal. Makes all the sense in the world.
Washington 2, Buffalo 0
Alex Ovechkin got ejected for a boarding penalty on Patrick Kaleta that I’m not sure even warranted a penalty. Ovie also had the game-winning goal.
Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 3
Try as the Leafs might, they couldn’t give this game away. They went up 2-0 and coughed up the lead in less than three minutes. Then they went up 3-2 and were tied again six and a half minutes later. Too bad Tampa is almost as bad as the Leafs, because Toronto ended up winning. In regulation. I thought it must’ve been a typo too, but no. I think this might be their second win in a row!
Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1
Sid Crosby: Goal, assist. Goal was nice. Assist was nicer. Big news though: Sergei Kostitsyn had a helper and will therefore feel he has even more license to sulk when he gets shipped back to Hamilton in a couple days.
New York Rangers 2, Florida 1 (SO)
Talk about white-knuckle action. And by “white-knuckle action” I mean “watching the Rangers skate around listlessly until Marian Gaborik scores, then skate around listlessly again.”
Atlanta 2, Detroit 0
Ondrej Pavelec had 40 saves. That’s really all you need to know. This game did, however, have the unintentional comedy of a videotaped interview with Nicklas Kronwall in which he said Georges Laraque is not a dirty player. Kronwall, as the league’s dirtiest player, was speaking from experience.
Boston 2, Minnesota 1 (SO)
The Bruins have won four in a row now. Two of them in a shootout, another in OT. But the one that was in regulation was a two-goal win, so hooray hooray the Big Bad Bruins are back!!!
St. Louis 4, Dallas 3
Another two points for Brad Richards tonight. Quietly one of the best seasons in the league so far. I mean, 30 points in 22 games. Have you heard a word about him outside of Dallas? He’s fourth in the league in scoring!
Nashville 4, Colorado 3 (OT)
The Predators say, “Suck it Dater!”
Calgary 2, Phoenix 1
The Flames scored 3:44 left to somehow win a game in which they played like garbage. It does, however, assure that they go into this little road trip as being above .500 at home. Meanwhile they’ve only lost one road game in regulation. I can’t explain why that is.
Los Angeles 3, Edmonton 1
I’m pretty sure it’s not a good thing that Alex Frolov’s goal tonight gave him the same number for the season as Wayne Simmonds.
Anaheim 3, Carolina 1
In the battle of two really genuinely bad teams from different conferences, always bet on the one from the West. The worst team in the West would be pushing for a playoff spot in the East. Book that.