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Sharks, Hawks “Face Off”

Before we talk about last night’s match up, the game tying goal that was originally credited to Hossa against the Wings in the previous game, was changed to Toews, for those who missed that (like I did).

The 2nd in the league in face offs, Sharks, came to the United Center to play the 3rd in the league, face off leaders, the Hawks last night. Why did I mention that? I’m not really sure, so lets move on..Crawford (16-10-4) was in net against Niemi (19-7-5) . There were a couple of line jiggles, 2nd) Hossa, Shaw, Kruger 3rd) Hayes, Bolland, Brunette 4th) Frolik, Mayers, Bickell. The 3 “D” pairing seem to finally be set, with Montador & O’Donnell playing together, once again. San Jose came into the contest having taken 14 out of their last 16 points.

Back to last night. In the 1st period, Sean O’Donnell and Winchester dropped the gloves early. O’Donnell took exception to the activity around Crawford in the crease. It’s about time that we saw some one from Hawks get physical in front of the net, defensively!  Both players left the ice for the usual 5 minute fighting penalties.

Later in the period, Keith and Stalberg rang shots off of opposite posts in the same sequence. Then Niemi came up with a great cross crease, glove save on Kane, Kane who had what was seemingly an open net, failed to score on a nice pass from Toews. Kaner, who has averaged just about a point a game for his career, has been struggling as of late. When you are, those shots will usually find the goalies glove instead of the back of the net. With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Bolland scored from a tough angle. A couple of nice passes, behind the net, from Brunette and Hayes set up the shot. Then, once again (how many games in a row now have we seen this) with 20 seconds left, Stalberg scored on a great pass from Toews. 2-0 going into the locker room. The Hawks, however, as of late, seem to get TOO comfortable when they go up 2-0. We will see this again next paragraph.

In the second, it was the Sharks turn to score twice in around 2 minutes. The first was a tough redirect on a long wrist shot. Pavelski got credit for that one. Then, a wrap around that should have been stopped by Crawford, snuck in. 2-2 tie.  Toews took back the lead on a pass from Kane (there’s 1 point) 3-2 Hawks. With 1 minute left, the first non fight penalty was called against the Hawks. They are now 26th in the league with a 78.4 kill percentage. The only thing that keeps these guys competitive, is the fact that they stay out of the box, for the most part. Carry that P.K. into the next frame.

In the 3rd period, it was the kid Shaw again. putting the Hawks up 4-2. I hope he didn’t pay his rent too far in advance in Rockford, because I don’t see him going there any time soon. It was also the 22nd time this year that the Hawks have scored 4 or more goals in the game, the most in the NHL.  Later in the period, A Penalty Kill, turned 4 on 4, turned Power Play did nothing more than eat clock.  The Hawks, for some good special team news, moved up to the upper half of the league (14th) on the Power Play moving up to 18%. Then, Chicago area native Wingels made it interesting for San Jose scoring his first NHL goal. 4-3 Chicago.( I hate seeing any one score on the Hawks, but it has to be pretty cool to score your first goal in the town that you came from!)  A Penalty Kill & an empty net with 67 seconds left made it exciting, but the Hawks prevailed.

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