by Vince Maranto on 04/01/12 at 12:30 PM ET
The Hawks clinched a playoff spot Saturday night, beating the Predators in Nashville, by a score of 5 - 4. It is now the fourth consecutive year that the franchise has done such. Not a spectacular feat, but considering what this organization was prior to this, impressive none the less. The Hawks are currently in a tie, points wise, with Detroit. The first tie breaker, Regulation / Overtime Wins, is well preserved by the Wings, so don’t get your hopes up. This game was equally exciting as it was aggravating. I’‘m not sure if I cheered or yelled at the screen more (at 2:00 AM, after getting home from work). If this game was Chinese food, it would definitely be sweet & sour.
Let’s start with the goal tending. It was Crawford (28-17-6) against the ALWAYS tough, and NHL leading victory leader (42-17-6) Riine. To try and convince any one, that in a 9 goal game, that the goalies were amazing, is going to be difficult. You had to be there, as the saying goes. Both made some truly spectacular, point blank saves. Crawford, by far, showed athletic ability, going from post to post, and a quick glove that I have not seen all year, if ever. You come to expect this from Rinne and he didn’t disappoint.
In the 1st period, Rinne robbed Bickell less than 2 minutes in. Them a Hawks Power Play (26th @ 15%) came up big. Sharp, on a centering pass, put one off a Preds d-man. (Whattaya know, it happens to other teams too) 1 - 0 Hawks. Another PP later, never got set up, with the Hawks unable to get the puck in and control it. Crawford had 2 amazing saves in this period. With 10 seconds left, the Hawks went on another PP, which would carry over into the next frame. The Hawks out shot the Preds 16-12!—That’s what I like to see.
The Hawks converted for the second time on the PP to start the 2nd period. Bolland (his 19th) from Kane. I’d like to see Davey hit the 20 mark before the season ends. This guy deserves it. The Hawks then went on a Penalty Kill. They showed the kind of aggressiveness that I like to see on this PK. It carried over to Kane scoring immediately after it was killed. Hjalmarsson with a long pass to a break away Kane, 3 - 0. Less than 2 minutes later, Stalberg showed his speed by going around a defender. He missed the cross goal stuff attempt, but followed his shot and banked it off Rinne from behind the goal line.. This was Viktor’s 20th of the year. 4 - 0 Hawks. Then the problems began. Nashville scores on their Power Play and then again less than a minute later. Now you’ve got the crowd into it and new hope for the players. The Hawks had a couple more PP’s and a carry over PK., but the score remained the same. 4 - 2, into the locker room.
More great saves on either side of the rink, opened up the 3rd period. Nashville scored less than 5 minutes in, to cut it to one. Then, a little over 7 minutes in, the Preds tied it, again on their Power Play, 4 - 4. Weber with his slap shot, did the honors. A little over a minute later, Seabrook put the Hawks up for good, 5 - 4. The Hawks held on with AGAIN, both goalies coming through big. The Hawks closed the 6 game series with a 1 - 4 - 1 record against Nashville. It’s their only losing record in the division..
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