Here come the Hawks, the Car-di-ac-Hawks.
At least they gave us a show, didn't they? Things started out well enough. Yet another quick goal, this time Kane from Sharp. The Hawks were the quicker team to start, and were still winning battles even after Jarome Iginla's powerplay equalizer. Going into the first intermission, things were tied 1-1, and it was a pretty solid road period, overall, for the men of Four Feathers.
Then all hell broke loose.
Olli Jokinen was able to handle and roof a rolling puck that handcuffed Cam Barker, Nik never saw Aucoin's bid from the blue line, and then Jokinen put home a backhand that ricocheted off Seabrook's stick. Midway through the second, the game looked over.
The Hawks then took a bite out of the lead on VERSTEEG!'s power play tally, and a brain fart from Calgary leaving Pahlsson alone at the top of the left ring to deal led to Barker squirting one past Kiprusoff. Byfuglien finally got his ass to the front of the net and redirected a Campbell slapper to punctuate a furious four-and-a-half minute stretch which once again brought the game to a draw after 40 minutes. The Hawks had every ounce of momentum going into the second break, but it was all for naught.
The third period was tenative at best on both sides, but Calgary was gradually able to start controlling the play. Nik gave a juicy rebound off a Cory Sarich shot in the slot, and Eric Nystrom made no mistake. It was academic after that.
There is no way to mince words about this one, it was a deflating loss. A comeback like that should result in a win. And this is the first game in...well...EVER that Toews has been invisible. But with every gray cloud, there is a silver lining. Allow me to drop some knowledge-
- It's now a best of three, with the Hawks holding home ice. While this loss is a complete kick in the cock, going back home tied 2-2 is not the worst thing in the world.
- The Hawks are now getting bodies to the net, especially on the power play. Novel concept, to be sure, but the PP was 2-for-4, and that's hard to argue with.
- The role players chipped in.
- The Hawks only took one minor, and it was ticky-tack at that.
- Campbell contributed.
- Two days rest during a physical series.
Quite simply, the Hawks have to be better on Saturday. Trends be damned, get out there, and score the first goal. In spite of the trip west, the crowd will still be raucous, and getting on the board first will only fuel the UC's fire. Additionally, Khabibulin needs to control his rebounds. These last two games have shown what an average-to-below-average showing from Nik will result in. For the Hawks to be successful, Nik has to be exceptional.
Every time the Hawks have been pushed and things look bleak this year, they've responded; those 104 points aren't bullshit. However, a top effort is absolutely paramount on Saturday.
A special thanks to sportsgal, Charging Major, and Section 326 Bureau Chief, who all made it out to the Huettenbar this evening.You now have seen the cesspool Sam and I have been wasting our money and will to live in for far too long. Special thanks to the Chief, whose willingness to intentionally step outside for fresh air during the Hawks' two power play goals clearly had a direct cause and effect relationship with the outcomes of the advantages. Kudos to you sir.
Go get 'em on Saturday, boys.