Well, this time they only took off the first half of the second period. Baby steps to the elevator, right?
Actually, this was one of the Hawks tighter games of the past two months. The passing was much crisper, the defensive coverage was -- for the most part -- far more solid than we've seen, and the feet were moving at a pretty high rate. Power play still sucks to high heaven, though.
Anyway, the roof almost blew off when 2:34 in Adam Burish collected Kaner's pass behind the net, circled to the other side and put one out in front for The Sharp-Shooter. Luckily for everyone, Sharp whiffed on the one-timer, sending the Jonathan Quick the wrong way and leaving a gaping hole to put the puck into the net. You could tell the Hawks were feeding off of Burish's energy by just the way they celebrated that goal. You would have gotten very short odds on Burish soon picking a fight after, which he did with Rich Clune. A typical Burish-bout, which is to say it's slightly better than a Fraser-bout.
The 1st continued and ended just like far too many 1st periods lately. The Hawks batter an opponent, the shot-clock says they should be up three or four but they're not, and you head for your intermission piss/beer/smoke just knowing the lack of a lead is going to cost you.
And so it did. The Hawks were on the backfoot for the start of the 2nd, and when Andrew Ladd sort of whiffed on chipping it past Sean O'Donnell who set up Anze Kopitar to set up Dustin Brown (the exact people you don't want to be setting up), Brown was able to pot home a wrap-around that Niemi probably should have had (cue everyone telling me how biased I am and how much I hate Antti Niemi and how I'm going to hell).
It got worse two minute later. After Toews received a somewhat questionable goalie-interference penalty (it was kind of 50-50), Versteeg and Hossa both got caught to one side and left Anze Kopitar all alone on the other. While a wrister from the circles isn't always considered a good goal, Kopitar's shot was a laser and that's why he's one of the standout talents in the league.
Never fear, Iron Madden's here. The best line of the night came through not two minutes later when Madden found Ladd, whose shot rebounded to VERSTEEG!. He needed two attempts, but he got it home. The rest of the period the Hawks pretty much carried.
Before the 3rd, my companion at the game remarked that he thought we would be there awhile, and he was pretty much right. It was very tight, but the Hawks had the better of it. They should have had a power play earlier than they got one, because how Dustin Brown escaped an instigator penalty for starting a fight with Lowen-Brouw, I'll never know. The Hawks got their make-it-up call later when Simmonds was sent off for holding Sopel. Luckily, the refs didn't know that it always looks like Sopel's being held, he's just that slow.
Not that it matters, because the power play was an utter disaster again. Even 4-on-3 in OT, they hardly looked dangerous. On the winner, the Hawks got lucky it was Brad Richardson on the puck and not someone with, y'know, a clue, because Jack Johnson and another were streaking into the Hawks zone. But Richardson hand delivered the puck to Bolland, who had no trouble finding the Shooter. Why doesn't Sharp always look that good on a breakaway? He absolutely put Quick on his ass.
-I thought this was Madden's best game for a while. The combo of him, Ladd, and Versteeg really seem to be clicking, and has reinvigorated Steeger's game. I still don't know if he can be trusted on an out and out checking line. But what else would you use Madden for? To be determined...
-Though he had two penalties, and acted like a bitch after Hammer cleanly checked him, Wayne Simmonds is a beast. He was around the puck all night.
-Drew Doughty is too cross-check-y.
-After a couple flashes in a couple games, this is the second game in a row where Bolland-Hossa-Brouwer haven't done anything of note. Keep an eye on that.
-Seabrook didn't burn the building down. These days, I'll settle for that.
Player of The Game
Really only one choice here.