You almost don't want the circus trip to ever end at this point. The Hawks pulled out a game after another slow start to go a perfect 3 for 3 on this trip. After going down 3-0 nothing it didn't look good for our guys. They were being out played outshot and couldn't seem to get anything going. Yet as we've seen the past few games... the longer the game goes on - the better the Hawks seem to play. They slowly switched from being dominating to controlling the game and getting thier plays going.
I almost feel bad for the guys over at PPP because I know how it feels to go to an exciting game honoring a player you love only to have your team lose a close one (think Hull-Mikita-Sharks). It's not great - It's a gutpunch that hurts about 5 times as bad as a normal game... But then again.. god-damn does it feel good to see the Hawks take another two points on the road. That's 4 straight wins on the road for them and a provides a great chance to take a winning record on the usually difficult circus trip.
The highlights of the game were certainly the contributions of players like Bolland, Eager and Sharp. Bolland and Eager have both been playing great lately - getting on the play and getting their names on the scoresheat. Over the last two games Eager in particular has really stepped up with Buff out with either an indisclosed injury or a possible trade. Sharp has also come back to form scoring two huge goals to lead the scoring for the team.
A great win - check after the jump for a more detailed description of the game...
I totally missed the first 10 minutes of this game thanks to Chicago's wonderful public transit system. I didn't think it would take over an hour to get home from Millennium Park - but I guess I was wrong. If anything exciting happened in those first minutes - I ain't got shit to say about it. So fill me in on the comments
Once I did finally catch the game, nothing happened for a while. All in all it seemed like a boring game. Then Eager goes to lay a check on Grabovski - unfortunately once Eager was fully committed to the hit, Grabovski turns away from him and the check looks a lot worse than it really was. Grabovski falls into the boards right in front of the bench and every Leaf player jumps up looking for the penalty - only it was a clean yet unfortunate hit. Ponikarovsky tries to retaliate against Eager but only really jumps and grabs him in some sort of weird headlock and they fall to ice. Probably the worst retaliation ever - except for this "fight" HockeeNight reminded me of.
The Leafs started the scoring just after the Hawks power play ended. Stajan got the puck behind the net and saw Kubina coming in from the blue line. Toews and someone else (I didn't write it down and don't remember who) committed to the same player further down leaving Kubina alone. He took a very weak shot towards the net but Khabby never saw it past a screen. Leafs up 1-0.
Stajan later had a chance to get the Leafs further ahead in the first when he was awarded a penalty shot with 8.7 left in the first. Khabby was able to get his left pad out on a backhand that Stajan didn't elevate enough to keep it within a goal after the first.
Havlat started the second period taking a slashing penalty. A minute later Seabrook thought Marty looked lonely and decided to take a hooking penalty of his own. Bolland then didn't think a 5 on 3 was enough of a benefit to the Leafs so he decided to play without a stick for the kill. Amazingly the Hawks killed off the first penalty but Stajan later made up for his missed penalty shot with a spin around backhander to put the Leafs up by two.
I don't even know what to say about Moore's goal. He put himself right in front of the net and was left alone by Campbell. The puck came right to him but he didn't see it immediately. He chases it towards the board and puts a blind shot right over Khabby's shoulder and into the net off an impossible angle. Leafs up 3.
It was at this point that I put on my lucky Tuomo Ruutu sweater (note: only lucky when wearing at home away from any public eyes and when my roommates are out of the apartment. Only myself and my dog are allowed to see it.) The Leafs take a too many men penalty. Toews takes his place in front of the net but either drops or breaks his stick. Sharp sees him skate off towards the bench and takes his place. Keith takes a slap shot that Sharp gets a piece of to put it in. 3-1
Sharp brings the game within off a great move at the blue line to get around Finger and go hard towards the net with Ladd behind him. Toskala looked distracted by Ladd and wasn't able to react to the quick shot. 3-2
The one goal game didn't last long though as Walker decided to do his best Sopel impression and make a weak clear/pass/something that was easily picked up by the Leafs. Mayers to Mitchell to Ponikarovsky (which is way to hard of a name to keep typing). 4-2 Leafs... End of the second.
Finally the Hawks found their game in the third and less than a minute in Campbell throws the puck behind the net where it's picked up by VERSTEEG!. A nice no look pass to Kane who buries it - 4-3
Honestly, I totally missed the 4th goal. I was on the phone for a second and scared a friend by yelling into the phone when I saw Eager put it in. Off the replay it looked a lot like Kane's goal. 4-4
A couple of chances for the Hawks are broken up by good plays by the Leafs. My favorite was Brouwer coming in for what could have been a breakaway but falling after putting too much of his weight trying to knock Luke Schenn off the puck. It was only enjoyable because about 4 people in the stands immediately jumped up looking for a call and all of them were wearing Toews sweaters. End of regulation
We were all ready to see the game go to overtime - and I even thought pretty good about it seeing Khabby playing another solid game and Toskala being Toskala this year. The Leafs came out strong right away but weren't able to finish anything.
Keith ends up with the puck near the blue line and takes a slap pass down to Bolland who (to borrow the words on Eddie-O) goes forehand-backhand to bring the puck around Finger and Toskala and end the game.
Solid win - here we come California