For the second straight game, the Blackhawks came out of the gate strong, dominated the early game and scored the first goal. Unfortunately, for the second straight game they also gave up that lead and found themselves down in the third period with no other option than to pull Corey Crawford. Fortunately, they were once again able to bring the score to even with just seconds remaining. Fortunately, they were also the ones to grab the goal in overtime, evening the series as it shifts back to Chicago on Tuesday.
So at least we're getting the most from our dollar out of this series. The Hawks opened the scoring just 3 minutes in and on the power play no less. Bryan Bickell was solid in front of the net and got a backhand shot off a rebound with only seconds remaining in the first power play. The lead barely lasted though as Duncan Keith got worked along the boards by captain Shane Doan. It looked like Keith was going to be able to skate away with the puck after a brief board battle but Doan was a rabid dog attacking the puck. He took over behind the net and got a perfect pass to the tape of Raffi Torres who roofed it. Then things got... interesting. Jonathan Toews was attempting to go to the net and from my (and probably every other Hawk fan's) perspective, Mike Smith got a little Tim Thomas-y and attempted to check him. Toews was a good 2-3 feet outside of the crease when contact was made but was still given a penalty for goalie interference. "Bullshit", I said then... and I say again now. Of course the Yotes would score on the power play.
Of course the second period had plenty of it's own silliness. Starting off with Brandon Bollig unleashing a wicked wrister to beat Smith and even the score. That goal alone pretty much ensures that Q will dress him the rest of this series at the very least. Just about 15 seconds after the goal comes perhaps the most controversial play of the post-season thus far. Andrew Shaw goes hard around the net, probably attempting to take away a passing lane, and does very little to avoid contact with Smith who was playing the puck. They collide and Shaw's helmet smacks into the mask of Smith, who goes down hard. We'll wait for the bullets to fully discuss the play and the penalty but in the ensuing 5 minute major, the Coyotes score to put themselves back up one.
Being down a goal against the Coytoes (and in their arena) is not a good way to win a lot of games. Yet the Hawks once again found themselves there. Once again, it was Brent Seabrook who would help play hero. His huge blast from the point was re-directed by Patrick Sharp and found the net with only 6 seconds remaining. Overtime was surprisingly open as both teams combined for 18 shots in only about 10 minutes of play. As mentioned above, it was the Hawks this time to score the winner. Adrian Aucoin felt pressure behind the net and threw the puck along the boards to a waiting Viktor Stalberg. A quick pass to a wide open Bickell and the series is even. To the bullets:
- When Toews was given his two minutes for goalie interference I thought we had seen the officials one bad call for the game. Little did I know Shaw was ready for some fun later in the game. Let's get one thing out of the way immediately - it was a penalty. Goalies are protected almost as dramatically as quarterbacks these days (unless you're Ryan Miller, I guess). Shaw had to know that making contact with Smith was going to have him sitting for two. It was a silly move, especially with the Hawks having just evened up the score. It wasn't a blatant headshot though and the idea that officials should take into account a player's injury is ludicrous. It will lead to nothing more than flopping around and embellishing injuries just to get a call. It's an easy sell to fake being hurt... every one of us learned early on how to fake feeling bad when we wanted our parents to let us stay home from school for being "sick". Perhaps Smith was really hurt on the play, perhaps he milked it. I can't say. But using a player's reaction to call the penalty can't happen.
- Of course, it seems officials are just taking a page from Shanahan here. He routinely uses a player's injury to determine whether or not to suspend a player or determine the length of time of a suspension. Why shouldn't the officials take that from him? It's a dangerous precedent though and no one wants to see this game turn into soccer.
- We seem to be seeing a return of the physical side of Hammer lately, don't we? Nintendo was credited with two hits but provided the biggest of the game when he crushed Doan along the boards. Doan seemed to get up a little slow when he headed to the bench. He was fine though and even got revenge with a big hit on Hammer later in the game. We've talked before about Hammer's lack of physical play.. bringing it back could be huge.
- Marian Hossa has yet to find a point in the two games and I heard a few people calling him out for it. While we'd all love to see him find the net he isn't exactly invisible. He's a +3 in the two games and lead the Hawks with 6 shots last night. Hopefully home ice treats him well.
- Brent Seabrook.
- Huge thanks to everyone who came out to Finley Dunne's last night. Sorry I didn't get to meet more of you. We'll hopefully be doing this again soon though.
- As Hack mentioned in the preview - Game 2 has huge significance in the Hawk's recent history. The Hawks didn't have a perfect road game but they found a way to win. Finding a way is what the playoffs are all about. Now we shift back home to the UC with the Coyotes having lost home ice advantage. Should be fun.
Player Of The Game:
Well, certainly didn't think I'd be using this picture in the playoffs.. but Lord Bryan Bickell it is. OT winners kind of guarantee your spot here.