Entering their game on Friday night, the Anaheim Ducks were the clear-cut best team in the Western Conference and in the entire league as they came in on an eight-game winning streak. Their opponents, the Chicago Blackhawks, despite being the defending Stanley Cup champions, came into the game being discussed as the second best team right in their own conference and in the NHL as a whole. Recognizing that they have so far been second best up to this point in the season, a Blackhawks win over the Ducks would go a long way to reminding their opponents who is the reigning champ.
It would be the Blackhawks who came out fast and strong to start the game as they attacked and looked to pin the Ducks in their defensive zone from the very beginning. Ironically enough, the Blackhawks would open their scoring account playing a man short as Marian Hossa scored to give the Blackhawks a deserved 1-0 lead. After the goal, the Blackhawks would not take their foot of the pedal as they continued attacking and having the better of the scoring chances and this effort would pay off with a second goal in the period as Kris Versteeg would take advantage of a defensive zone error by the Ducks to make it 2-0 Blackhawks after one period.
As the Blackhawks continued to press the action and do a good job pinning the Ducks in their defensive end, the Ducks would show some lack of control as they committed four penalties in what ended up being a scoreless second period.
The first 10 minutes of the third period would follow the script of the first two periods with the Blackhawks controlling play and when Bryan Bickell scored to make it 3-0 Blackhawks; it appeared they would just be killing time on what would be a dominating win over the Ducks.
Credit to the Ducks who chipped away and scored two goals to cut the Blackhawks lead to 3-2, and actually made the final five minutes of this game the competitive matchup that was expected prior to puck drop. While the Blackhawks showed dominance through the first 50 minutes of the game, they showed an ability to grind out a close win in the final five minutes as they did enough to prevent the Ducks from completing their comeback effort and sealed a big win with Hossa scoring an empty-netter.
If the intention on the part of the Blackhawks was to send a message, they certainly did just that as they took the game to the Ducks and just as importantly, they did a fine job of shutting down Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in this game. While the win in the end was a nail-biter for the Blackhawks and their fans, a win over the Ducks will go a long way in reminding the Ducks that come playoff time, if they meet up, if they come at the king, they best not miss.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing NHL writer for RantSports.com. Lucas is also a contributing San Francisco 49ers and Soccer writer. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan and you can add him to your network on Google.