It almost worked — mostly because Greiss saved their bacon through most of an under-fire third period — but they fell 1:14 short on their way to a shootout loss.
With Corey Crawford pulled for a sixth attacker, Artemi Panarin tied the game at 1-1. After an entertaining but scoreless overtime, Panarin was also the last man to shoot with a shootout clincher.
First Two Periods: Sluggish, then see-saw
The first period opened carefully, boringly. It wasn’t exactly slow — the teams flashed speed when the opportunity presented — but they were oh so careful, constantly regrouping, line matching, curling back for line changes.
The Blackhawks finally had a couple of chances, mostly on an unsuccessful power play. The Isles had basically no chances on their own power play, but John Tavares had an exhausted breakaway on that same earlier Hawks man advantage.
The second period open a little more eventfully. Brian Campbell saved a goal after an Isles-fortuitous carom slipped behind Corey Crawford. Michal Roszival avoided a pretty obvious penalty when his attempted check on Anthony Beauvillier became a forearm to the face. But Chicago controlled the bulk of the first 10 minutes.
The Isles generated several good looks on a mid-period power play -- much better than their first-period PP -- but came up short. Soon after, Nick Leddy mostly obliviously blocked a Jonathan Toews open-net chance that still may have been headed wide. But the Blackhawks received a power play from that continued sequence, a dubious cross-checking call on Anders Lee.
Instead of giving up a goal there to the Hawks’ dangerous power play, the Isles cashed in with a goal as the power play expired. Brock Nelson elected to shoot on a two-on-one with the defenseman prone and beat Crawford through the five hole.
They had some good pressure to attempt to double the lead, too, but were unsuccessful for a variety of reasons ranging from Crawford’s saves to hesitant decisions. Then they dodged some close calls and dangerous sustained zone time by the Hawks — much by Richard Panik all by himself — to reach the second intermission up 1-0.
Third Period: Hawks pour it on
The third period opened with another chance for the Isles to grow their lead, thanks to a “if that’s the standard where were the other 43 calls?” minor on a perplexed Thomas Jurco. That power play misfired completely, but the Isles at least evaded danger for a few more minutes until the next exasperating Hawks push.
Then the Hawks offered rush after rush. After Greiss faced 13 shots over the first two periods, he faced 15 in the final frame.
Chicago was getting a little frustrated with Greiss stopping everything, so they started lofting passes and doing dipsy-doodles to try to catch him by surprise with less predictable plays.
They pulled Crawford for a sixth attacker with two minutes left. After dodging more pressure, the Isles had one chance at an empty-netter but couldn’t connect with one another. Then off an offensive zone faceoff, the Hawks finally broke through. Spreading the puck around the zone, they set up Artemi Panarin for a rocket from the left wing that beat a screened Greiss, just 1:14 short of a shutout.
Overtime: Le pant, le pant, le pant
Overtime was high drama. The Isles were overly respectful of the Hawks’ skill guys at first, but eventually it migrated into a back-and-forth chance marathon. After a long shift in the Isles zone, Tavares was exhausted and barely able to pull off a shot at the end of a two-on-one, but he recovered for a final shift in OT that included several wizardly stickhandling moves. (Also: dangerous moves at the offensive blueline. This time, he didn’t get burned.)
Greiss did good work. Josh Bailey had a fanstastic standup check of Marian Hossa to set up his own breakaway, but Bailey’s low try was stopped easily by Crawford. Ryan Strome and Shane Prince each had their motors going to keep play alive at various points. Josh Ho-Sang was smart and threatening.
In the shootout, Toews converted the first try, going slow and wide before drifting into the slot. Ho-Sang got the Isles’ first try and was stopped on a five-hole attempt. Patrick Kane tried to do the same move as Toews but failed. Nikolay Kulemin hit the post on a deke. Panarin finished it to gain the bonus point.
Anthony Beauvillier returned from a one-game illness absence, while Joshua Ho-Sang stayed in the lineup. That left:
Lee - Tavares - Bailey
Ladd - Nelson - Ho-Sang
Chimera - Strome - Prince
Kulemin - Beauvillier - Clutterbuck
Travis Hamonic was back. Thomas Hickey was a healthy scratch and Adam Pelech came in for Scotty Mayfield:
Leddy - Boychuk
Pelech - Hamonic
de Haan - Seidenberg
The never-ending road trip continues Sunday in Calgary at 4 p.m. EST. The Flames are firmly in the playoff hunt, holding the West’s first wild card spot by a five-point cushion entering tonight.