ZURICH – Well, the Chicago Blackhawks are ready to defend the NHL’s honour at the Victoria Cup, tuning things up in a game against HC Davos, and bagging a comfortable 9-2 win.
HC Davos coach Arne Del Curto had said earlier that if nothing else, his team would make the Chicago Blackhawks work hard for their win, to make it easier for the ZSC Lions to beat the NHL challenger in the Victoria Cup game on Tuesday. Unfortunately, apparently neither his team nor the Blackhawks players had read the story.
Del Curto himself did his best to get the players ready, even shocking them by wearing a tie before the game, only to then reveal his usual notoriously casual sweater look.
Mostly, it was the Blackhawks first line, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Troy Brouwer, who kept the Davos fans in a constant state of panic in the first period.
Just as they had got their hopes up during a Davos power play, Brouwer picked up a loose puck in the Chicago zone and found himself in a two-on-one situation with Toews. He sent a saucer to Toews, who sent it right back to Brouwer, who had an easy job to bang he puck into an empty net, behind Leonardo Genoni, at 9:23.
Four minutes later, Patrck Kane stickhandled himself to a great scoring chance, but Genoni made a pad save. The rebound went to Brian Campbell on top of the circles, and he beat Genoni with a snapshot through his five-hole to make it 2-0.
With less than three minutes remaining in the first period, Kane got the puck behind the Davos net. He found Campbell rushing into the slot, Campbell faked a shot and instead, passed the puck back to Kane, now by the side of the net. He took a step closer and put the puck into an empty net to make it 3-0 after the first period.
The second period wasn’t as electric as the first one and Davos got back into the game, creating its share of scoring chances.
Daniel Widing put the Swiss team on the board with a onetimer from the top of the circle on powerplay. His snap shot went in off the post, when Chicago’s starting goaltender Antti Niemi was still moving from post to post, following Reto von Arx’s excellent cross-ice pass.
Just two minutes later, the Hawks were up by three again when Bryan Bickell skated around a Davos defenceman, and his backhander hit the post. The rebound came straight to Evan Brophey’s stick and he had an easy job to tip it in at 28:50.
With five minutes remaining, John Madden’s pass from the Hawks blueline sent Patrick Sharp on a breakaway. Sharp faked a shot to the gloveside, then flipped the puck to his backhand and sent it upstairs for 5-1.
The Blackhawks outshot HC Davos 27-8 in the first two periods.
It took the Hawks just 58 seconds to get the scoring started in the third period. Aaron Johnson carried the puck into the Davos zone and fired a shot that Genoni blocked. The puck ended up behind the net and Johnson sent it quickly back to the front of the net where Radek Smolanek onetimed it to the back of the net.
Three minutes later, Patrick Sharp got the puck in the corner, then stepped closer to the net before sending a hard pass to Duncan Keith at the top of the circle. Keith onetimed it high on Genoni’s glove side.
Then it was time for the Patrick Kane Show. The youngster grabbed the puck in the corner, kickbiked his way around a Davos defenceman, deked the goalie to the ice, went around him and put the puck into the net to make it 8-1, the same score as in last year’s Victoria Cup warm-up game between SC Bern and the New York Rangers.
But, Chicago wasn’t done yet. Smolanek scored his second of the night when he grabbed his own rebound and slammed it past Genoni for 9-1 at 51:09.
The announced attendance of 7,252 still had enough energy to cheer for a Davos goal with five minutes remaining. Peter Guggisberg got on a breakwaway and beat Corey Crawford, in at the midway point, through his five-hole.
RISTO PAKARINENArno Del Curto's tie trick didn't help. Chicago outsmarted Davos and won 9-2. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images