by Vince Maranto on 12/15/11 at 01:54 AM ET
What a good call by Versus (becoming NBC Sports on January 2nd, if you haven’t seen that a MILLION times, ha ha) matching up the number one (Wild) and two (Hawks) Western Conference teams. The Wild also led the NHL in total points prior to the game. It would be Ray Emery (6-1-2) to make his 3rd consecutive start in the net against Nik Backstrom (11-6-2). Two solid goalies, two teams playing well this year. For the Hawks, to note, Ben Smith was sent back to Rockford and Brian Bickell dressed. Big John Scott played 3rd shift “D” alongside Montador, in the ever evolving and revolving # 3 match ups. Viktor Stalberg again (I don’t get it) started with Toews and Kane on the first line.
In the 1st period, the Hawks could have pulled Emery for the first 17 minutes for the extra attacker. The Wild did not have a shot on goal until the 2:59 mark, much to the sarcastic cheers of the Minnesota faithful. Both teams played very tentative for the entire period. There were no Power Plays for either side in a pretty fast moving (time wise) opening frame. The Hawks out shot the Wild 11-2.
In the 2nd period (the Hawks, by the way, led the NHL in goals scored going into the game with 40) Emery played big again this game, making some great saves. A Hawks Power Play (now all the way up to 19% and 9th place) which led to a 5 on 3 (unsportsmanlike conduct after a Wild break away no call) resulted, after the initial penalty expired into a Hawks goal. Hossa, in a scrum in front made it 1-0. On the next shot on goal, a couple of sweet passes led to a Frolik goal to make it 2-0, Hawks. Brodziak, after a failed no icing call—the puck shot from around Minnesota’s goal line—scored to make it 2-1. A Hawks turnover. then, made it 2-2. On a Hawks Penalty Kill there was big pressure by the Wild. The first minute the puck never left the Hawks zone, but Emery and the Hawks prevailed, 2-2 after 2.
In the 3rd, thanks to a classic Doc Emerick ( new American hockey Hall of Famer, and with good reason) jinx—“The Wild have only let in 2.04 goals a game”— would soon let in # 3. Toews on a sweep move in front made it 3-2. A successful P.K and some more great goal tending by Emery ensued. However, on a delayed penalty the puck went of Nick Leddy’s leg, tied 3-3. On to yet another overtime.
The O.T. was very exciting. I like the Hawks 4 on 4 match ups, but no one scored, on to the Shoot Out.
I was worried about Emery, but he proved to be perfect this time Toews, then Kane (the perfect ending to the Versus 36 Hour / Hawks game) scored on a goal with about a dozen forehand, backhand moves. 2 points to the Hawks.
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