I was almost ready to give up on this one. In a game they had to play smart disciplined hockey, the Hawks were marching to the penalty box early on like there was free whiskey in there. Worst of all, it was Toews who led (I got it right!) the charge with an Adam Burish-esqe idea to wrap his arms around Marcel Goc while on the way to the bench after breaking a stick. An absolutely unacceptable penalty from just about any player so early in the game, even more so from the captain. Martin Erat decided to get his annoying goal out of the way as soon as possible - knocking away a rebound that looked like it was falling into Turco's glove and putting the puck in the empty net. Thankfully, the third line continued to be the Hawks best as Bryan Bickell forced a turnover from mediocre actor turned hockey player Kevin Klein and drew Anders Lindback towards him allowing him to hit Dave Bolland who was once again alone in front of an empty net for the easy redirect.
Not to make things too easy, Duncan Keith decided he wanted some of that awesome penalty box action and goes in for two for holding Joel Ward and the Predators score another annoying goal as Brian Campbell blocks Shea Weber's shot but the puck bounces right to J.P. Dumont alone in the slot.
In the second period... holy shit - this happened. If players on the top lines aren't going to score highlight reel goals... someone's got to pick up the slack, eh? Explain to me why Dave Bolland wouldn't be a good option for the shootout?
The third - well J.P. Dumont scores again after a clusterfuck of a faceoff and I was once again ready to give up. Give the Predators a lead in the third period and they play a version of hockey that will make you question your faith, sanity or at the very least your decision to ever become a sports fan. Somehow though, the Hawks power play continues to be the best in the league - Kopecky dishes to Keith who amazingly got another shot through (there was literally no one in front of him to hit). The low shot gave a big rebound for Brouwer to tap in to tie the game.
Just 40 seconds later, Brouwer strikes again as Kane sets a shifty little pick (interference?) allowing Lowen-Brouw to skate towards the center and fire a wrister in. The Hawks would net two insurance goals before the final whistle, allowing them to catch the Predators again in the standing.... though of course the Preds still have two games in hand... sigh.
A las balas:
- A strong third period is a very welcome sight. The Hawks still lead the league in allowing third period goals (last night did not help) and Dumont's goal could have been a nail in the coffin. Instead the Hawks flexed nuts and scored 4 more times. The Predators only managed 5 shots in the third despite being tied or down for over half the period.
- The third period shot differential also helps Leddy and Hendry rebound in the Corsi department going from a combined -23 last night to a +1 tonight. It's not amazing but it's something. Leddy looked like he had his wits about him for most of the game. He even played 42 seconds on the penalty kill with Seabrook in the box for cross checking in the second.
- Go back and watch Brouwer's game winner - The Predators and their fans may scream til their blue in the face that Kane should have been booked for interference but check out the refs' arm. He was going to call a penalty on the Predators. So that's fun.
- Toews had 4 shots and a goal (the 100th of his career) which is better than last night by far but that opening penalty just can't happen. If him and guys like Kane, Hossa and Sharp want to start chipping in some goals to take the pressure off Bolland, Brouwer and Bickell... well that'd be nice.
- Thank god the Hawks were able to bounce back because there was already way too much noise about Turco "costing" the Hawks this game early on. He could maybe have had that third goal but none of the three seemed unforgivable to me. Once again, he may not be the Hawks #1 like he probably had in mind at the start of this year but there is nothing inherently wrong with Marty Turco in the net for the Blackhawks.
- Slightly scary moment when Soupy seemed to take nasty hit along the boards and come up gingerly (get it!). Campbell is still one of the Hawks best and most consistent players so losing him again would make this battle for a playoff spot all that much harder. Luckily he didn't miss a shift and even set up Bryan Bickell's goal as he drew just about all 6 Predators behind the net... allowing Bicks to find ice softer than the Winter Classic.
- What a rough game for Ryan Suter. He's still looking for his jock after Dave Bolland crossed him up and he was a team worse -3 and -13 in Corsi rating. Trotz put him out there for nearly 33 minutes tonight which probably didn't help but I bet he'd like this one back.
- Speaking of TOI - Soupy once again led the Hawks with a second over 26 minutes.
- For some reason I really thought the Hawks were done with the Predators for the regular season but alas, we've got more date with them in late February. So until then...
Player Of The Game:
He's been playing possibly as well as any Hawk has all year... 2 goals (including that one we'll be seeing again on all the end of the year top goal lists) a +3 and he won 55% of his faceoffs. He's the rat.