Cowboys From Hell - Hawks 3, Stars 3 (Hawks win popularity contest)
I'm starting to find the Dallas Stars really, really, really irritating. They don't do anything particularly well, coach Marc Crawford looks like a total d-bag salesman who would be cruising for 19-year-old tang at a college bar, and Mike Ribeiro is a soft, diving, sneering, complete penis of a hockey player, yet he always finds ways to get his chances against the Hawks, and often buries them. His obligatory goal against the Blackhawks is not quite to Martin Erat territory yet, but it's getting there.
All that being said, prior to Ribeiro's goal which opened the scoring after numerous Hawks got caught behind the net in a scrum when the puck squirted to the front, the Hawks dominated the play territorially. Leading the charge at the outset and throughout the evening was a reunited Daydream Nation with Patrick Sharp. The line buzzed around the Stars zone its first couple shifts, and finally converted on a weak Patrick Kane wrister that found its way between Marty Turco's legs from the near circle. Dallas would answer on the power play when James Neal poked the puck through Antti Niemi's pads after he was allowed to set up shop alongside of the crease behind Duncan Keith. Patrick Kane would pull the Hawks even with half a minute remaining in the frame when he took the puck from behind the net and walked around front of the net on the far side to sneak a wrist shot through the crook of the arm of the downed Turco.
The Hawks control of the play continued in the second period, this time to a greater degree due to Coach Q having enough of the Tomas Kopecky Experience in the Top 6, and rightfully putting Troy Brouwer opposite Marian Hossa on Dave Bolland's line. That line, along with the Toews line, both had long stretches of sustained pressure in the second, and Dustin Byfuglien got in alone on Turco on a breakaway, but both the Hawks and Stars came up empty in the second. Dallas' only prime scoring chance came off a centering feed from Mike Modano that was redirected, and Niemi blockered aside.
Quenneville's line-reshuffling payed direct dividends when Troy Brouwer banged home into a gaping net a Marian Hossa shot that had ricocheted off of the end boards on a two-on-two rush. The Men of Four Feathers did not bring their collective foot off the gas, still putting 14 shots on net in the period after taking the lead early. Dallas almost drew even after Kris Versteeg predictably refused to dump the puck in at the center stripe which led to a chance going the other way where dicknose Ribeiro rang a one-timer off the near post on a shot that would have surely beaten Niemi. With a shade under four minutes left, the Stars would indeed tie it, when Loui Eriksson again got behind Keith who was covering the front of the net and buried a feed from the other side of the slot. Turco made a couple of point blank saves on Sharp and Toews near the end of the game, and Trevor Daley redirected a puck into the net well after the final horn had blown, but the game would indeed go to overtime.
The opportunities for either side were limited in OT until halfway through when Ribeiro drew a hooking call on Keith resulting in a four-on-three. Brent Sopel was on the ice for the entirety of the kill, and while the Stars did have 5 shots in the over time, none of them were of the overly difficult variety. To the shootout things went, where the goalies at both ends were excellent, stopping each of the shooters they faced in the opening three rounds, though Toews did ring one off the post. In extra innings, James Neal hit a goalpost of his own, before VERSTEEG! slid the puck five-hole for the clincher in the fifth round for the only goal of the skills competition. Hawks win 4-3.
- The Kane-Toews-Sharp line was absolutely dominant tonight. It's clear that even after a long time apart, the three have a very natural chemistry with one another. Sharp in particular was all over the place tonight, assisting on both Kane goals and forechecking aggressively.
- Once again, some of the CORSI numbers are pretty silly. Kane a +19, Campbell and Toews at +15, and Sharp at +11.
- Great work by Catfish on the 4-on-3 kill in overtime.
- None of the three goals did Niemi have a legitimate chance on, and on the latter two he was hung out to dry because his Norris Candidate defenseman was napping. While Keith did have a strong game in transition and retrieving pucks, he is obviously having some positional issues recently when the other team has possession.
- As was noted by Pat and Edzo, as well as in the comments here, great move by Stars d-man Trevor Daley in giving the little boy who had been hit by the pane of glass his stick as a souvenir, and fortunately, it looked as though he was just dazed and not hurt./
The power play is still fucking clown shoes.