What an odd game this was. Things got started early with a good drive down the ice by Bobby Ryan but an even better save by Antti Niemi. This would be a common theme throughout the game as Niemi stopped chance after chance by the Duck tonight - at least until the last few minutes.
Regardless, right after the faceoff to start the play again Dustin Byfuglien and Troy Brodie (with a name like that he belongs on some sort of MTV faux reality show, not the NHL) throw down. This was probably one of the staged fights that the NHL is looking to get rid of, made even weirder by the fact that Byfuglien seemed excited and more than willing to pound Brodie with a few good punches before scoring the takedown. The rest of the first was fairly back and forth with the Hawks getting plenty of help from both the outstanding play of Niemi and the always helpful posts.
The second period began much the same as the first - about 6 minutes in the Ducks got a great chance after catching Campbell flat-footed but Niemi came up with an amazing diving pokecheck to keep the puck behind the net allowing the Hawks to start a break away down to the other end. Buff hit Madden along the blue line, Iron Madden saw VERSTEEG! flying down the ice and got him a pass all alone heading to the net. Steeger faked a shot going one way to get Giguere down and sprawling before roofing it over his left shoulder. Only 10 minutes later Kane skated behind the net, absorbed a check and fed the puck Troy Brouwer. Brouwer seemed surprised to find himself a) with the puck and b) so alone that he had time to flub the initial pass, put it on his backhand and fake Giguere again to get the second goal of the game.
The Hawks didn't waste much time to put the game away in the third. Just over a minute in Sharp won a battle along the boards, got a pass to Ladd who fed a wide open Hossa to score the eventual game winner. All this was done with only 4 Hawks on the ice as Barker received a hard hit behind the Hawks net and had trouble getting off. He'd get his revenge later though as he laid a few hard hits on various ducks, including a particularly vicious hit/facewash along the boards to some Duck whose name I can't remember and can't be bothered to look up. Hossa scored again on another power play to extend their streak with the advantage. Daydream Nation teamed up to score the final point before the Hawks took their foot off the gas and allowed something called Petteri Nokelainen to score two goals to end the game.
- The Hawks looked tired tonight and never seemed to get it out of 2nd or 3rd gear. Lucky for them, the Ducks looked just as sloppy and couldn't keep up, even with a clearly worn out Hawks team.
- The game began with James Wisniewski and Ray Whitney slamming into each other about 50 feet away from the puck - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it was Wiz who was out of position and knocking over his defensive partner.
- Hjalmarsson sat again tonight but Jordan Hendry didn't seem to miss a step. He always seemed to be in position and made a few great passes to set up rushes into the Ducks zone.
- The Hawks were losing the SOG battle through two periods 21 to 18 but again showed their ability to dominate a team in the final period - The Ducks were held to only 3 shots in the third - even with two of them finding a way in, they would have needed 5 shots to at least tie the game.
- Scott Niedermayer added another -2 to his dismal season - it's only a matter of time until he just starts killing his teammates for ruining his legacy.
- If Buff keeps it up - it's definitely looks like we're seeing a player set out to prove something to Brian Burke. We welcome it.
Player of the Game:
When the game was close, there was one player that kept the Hawks in the game - so I'm going to have to give the honor to the backup goalie who came incredibly close to drawing even with Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov for a league leading 5 shutouts, despite only having played in 13 games so far.. wow.
We can't go without giving credit to the Blackhawks though for letting Harvey Wittenberg take over the PA calls for Gene Honda - a nice subtle move that I'm sure plenty of hardcore fans will appreciate.
Oh and by the way, we're going to keep doing this until it stops working - it's your soundtrack to a paddlin'