Eight of eight points against 3 top conference foes and one truculent opponent? Yeah, we'll take it. Tonight's win wasn't pretty, but an ugly win is still a win.
Things started off well enough with Brent Sopel (yes, BRENT SOPEL) notching his first of the year on a one time feed from Jordan Hendry who won the puck down low skating at forward tonight. Fresh call-up Bryan Bickell provided a nice screen on a shot that Evgeni Nabokov never saw. The Sharks answered later on in the period when dickweed Dany Heatley took a feed from Joe Thornton on a play that the Hawks should have cleared the zone on, but Jason Demers made a nice play to cut off Troy Brouwer receiving the exit pass.
Early in the second, we got to see the numbskullery we had been missing from Ben Eager, where he somehow managed to earn an extra two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from his scrap with cro-magnon Douglas Murray. On the ensuing power play, the Sharks broke the Hawks streak of 18 straight penalties killed when Demers picked up a loose puck in the left circle on a broken play. It was a shot Huet did not get over to his post in time to cover. Forty-five seconds later, Patrick Marleau got a pass from Joe Pavelski in the slot, where he was left alone in a defensive breakdown, and was allowed to get two cracks at the net, the second of which he punched through. For the rest of the period, the ice was tilted in the Hawks favor. Patrick Kane picked a corner over Nabokov's glove to cut the deficit in half. With about a minute and a half to go, John Madden tied things up after skating through four Sharks to bury a rebound of a shot that was generated between he, Andrew Ladd, and Troy Brouwer. There was a scare in the middle of the frame when the puck squirted behind Huet and the Sharks had thought they had scored, but there was no indication on the ice, and the war room in Toronto determined no goal.
The third period was a rather tenative affair, with neither team generating much offensively, almost playing as if they were resigned to the fate of overtime as teams once did in the pre-lockout era. The Hawks ended things quickly with a great shift from Troy Brouwer and Jonathan Toews, who won the puck after hard work in behind the Shark net, with Toews finally able to slip it to a pinching Brent Seabrook who shot the puck through Nabokov for his second of the year, and second OT winner. Ballgame.
- The Hawks were without the services of Kris Versteeg tonight, who was likely banged up after getting demolished by Jeff Finger on Friday night. Bryan "Don't Call me Travis" Bickell filled in admirably, and proving to be basically the left handed version of Troy Brouwer, which isn't a bad thing to be at this point.
- Glad to see the Hawks hang tough and win over the top team in the league with basically half of their top 6 out for tonight's game (Bolland, Versteeg, Hossa).
- Niklas Hjalmarsson continues to impress with his patience and smarts in his own end. As we've mentioned before here, and in the Indian, pay attention and marvel at his knack for absorbing a hit to make the correct pass. Additionally, he had a nice break up of a rush by dropping to a knee and taking away a passing lane.
- Coach Q broke form and got way less matchup happy in the second period when the Hawks were down two goals, in an effort to generate some offense. Of course, with the score knotted in the third, John Madden once again resumed shadow detail on Thornton.
- It wasn't Huet's best night, but he made a gigantic save on Scott Nichol in the waning seconds of regulation, so credit has to be given. All we as fans have asked from him is to just make the key save, and there was none bigger in the contest than that one.
- The Hawks again limited one of the top offensive teams in the league to just 23 shots.
- EDIT: John Madden was 9-0 on draws. The man love grows ever stronger.