Ordinarily, this is where I'd bitch and complain about the Hawks blowing a two goal lead in the third period and needing to go into extra innings in the skills competition to settle things, but given the circumstances of Toews and Keith being out, and pretty much needing points any way they can grab them, I can't be too sour on things.
Much the same as two weeks ago when the Blues were on West Madison, the Hawks were all over them from the word go, being quick to the outside and smart with their station to station passing. Long distance softies at both ends nine seconds apart in the first were the only scores through 40, though the Hawks held a distinct advantage in play, all without the benefit of Brandon Bollig needing to change the momentum for them.
The third period would see the Men of Four Feathers cash in twice in the first half of the frame, first off the tape of Andrew Brunette, who deposited a rebound in a goal mouth scramble after Marian Hossa drove to the net hard from the left wing. Four minutes later, Patrick Sharp would cap off a 2-on-0 with Viktor Stalberg to widen the gap to 2, but that would be short-lived as well. After corralling a failed ring around from Johnny Oduya, Jason Arnott got the Blues within a goal as he was allowed about three or four whacks at the puck from the side of the net, and eventually got it past Corey Crawford. And with a buck and a half left and the Blues pressing, David Perron would continue to do his best Martin Erat impersonation by evening things up in supremely annoying fashion, deflecting a Kris Russel point shot, and the game would need extra time. The 4-on-4 skate saw the Hawks get a whopping 7 shots in 5 minutes on Jaro Halak, but he would be unyeilding. Even the shootout would need extra time, as the first 6 shooters on either side were denied before Dave Bolland patiently waited out Halak on the forehand, and Corey Crawford and the iron made it stand up at the other end. Hawks 4, Blues 3. To the almost-but-not really quite playoff bound bullets:
- The only reason this game got to overtime was because of the goalies at either end. While yes, the two ridiculously soft goals do even each other out, Crawford has to be more focused coming off getting a lead on a team that isn't designed to be able to come back, though he did make a few key saves early, notably on Steen alone at the right dot. However, Halak was brilliant at the other end, and routinely bailed his wind-burnt defensemen out. Were it not for him, DLR and his assless chaps would have stormed the UC by about midway through the second.
- Oh hey, the Blues lost again when scoring three goals. So much for that stat.
- Sharp and the Swedes were absolutely everywhere all night long, and got robbed blind repeatedly by Halak, so Sharp's emphatic and cathartic celebration after capping off that rush is understandable. Viktor Stalberg once again had himself a hellacious evening, too, using his speed in all three zones to his advantage. Marcus Kruger just continues to go to the right places. His presence can't be solely shown in numbers, The Plan All Along is just flat out a gamer. That line was a combined +54 in Corsi.
- By that same token, the shot totals against are still trending downward, with the Blues only getting 20 at Crow tonight. Forty at the other end helps skew that number, but it's an indicator of the possession game returning at just the right time.
- The Kane line was on the ice for all three Blues goals, saddling everyone on it with a -2. Even in spite of that though, he was Marian Hossa and they were not one time enough for them to get on the score sheet at the other end.
- Winning faceoffs also has a fair amount to do with that, with the Hawks winning 31 of 56 tonight.
- The power play is still fucking clown shoes.
- Hey Pacific Division - there's your blue print once again for two weeks from now. Take notes.
- While it's merely a formality at this point after getting the game to overtime, it certainly felt good to not have to watch the Blues clinch the division on UC ice.
- As I opened with, blowing a two goal lead with 10 to go in the third is still something that needs to be tightened up, but with Keith and Toews out, once again putting three up on what's shaping up to be a historically stingy defense and walking away with a win against the likely President's Trophy winner hides a multitude of sins. The Hawks haven't clinched yet, and San Jose isn't doing the Hawks any favors, trailing the Yotes 2-0 with not much time left, but everyone can start to breathe slightly easier.