by Vince Maranto on 04/22/12 at 01:49 PM ET
It hasn’t happened since the 1951 (Hey, a record BEFORE I was born) Stanley Cup Final between Toronto and Montreal, that 2 teams have played 5 straight overtime games. No surprise here, the overtime that is, as the Hawks won this match up 2- 1. This time it was Toews who scored 2:44 seconds in. The Captain, along with Sharp and Kane have been under scrutiny for lack of Play Off production in this series. Even Coach Q, when asked about the team’s play, stated, “I’m happy with the 3rd line”. He left it at that, just short of criticizing his stars. It should also be noted that the Coyotes had only the 16th best record at home this year. The Hawks have both of their wins in Arizona.
The lines weren’t anything like I’ve seen this year. With Hossa out, and Shaw still suspended, and being on the brink of elimination, changes were inevitable. They consisted of, 1) Bickell / Toews / Stalberg (more on him in a minute) 2) Kane / Sharp / Saad 3) Morrison / Bolland / Frolik 4) Hayes / Kruger / Brunette.. Lepisto was the 6th D-man, a position that has seen very little ice time this series. Crawford was in net, although you got the feeling that one or definitely two “soft” goals and he would be gone.
The Hawks came out playing like a team that was a game away from being eliminated. They showed great energy and very good back checking. On their first of 4 Penalty Kills they showed the type of aggressive play that I am a big fan of, going after the puck. The first period was almost all Hawks, however the frustrating part is when you dominate puck possession, but cannot score.The Hawks had back to back Power Plays (1 for 13, 22 shots prior to this game) with a brief 5 on 3 overlapping, but never really got set up. The lack of production on the PP, once again, seemed to have negative carry over to the rest of the period, into the second. The Hawks out shot the Yotes 12- 4, doing a good job of keeping the puck away from Crawford.
In the 2nd period, Phoenix scored to go up 1 - 0. A pinching Hjalmarsson and an indecisive Lepisto lead to a break away by Brule. If the unsuccessful PP’s earlier didn’t take the wind out of the Hawks sails, this sure did. The game for the rest of the period lacked any type of Play Off intensity at all. The Hawks did, however kill off 2 more penalties. Both teams had 10 shots on goal.
The Hawks had their 4th Penalty Kill in the 3rd period. Oh, by the way, all 4 penalties were on Viktor Stalberg. This guy flat out sucks in post season play. After last year I was EXTREMELY surprised that he was still with the team. He proved me WRONG during then regular season, but I am RIGHT when it comes to the Play Offs. Another failed Power Play (how many times can I write a “must score” on my notepad) and things did not look good. However, a blast from Nick Leddy (I’ve always said he & Seabrook need to shoot more) buzzed past Smith, to tie it at 1 - 1. Later a Hawks PP came as close as you can to scoring without doing so. But hence, again, it would go to OT.
Smith was big and thanks goodness Crawford was barely tested and it ended quickly. Back to Chicago on Monday.
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