He gets to the net unlike anyone else on the team, and on Friday night in Calgary it made all the difference. Jonathon Toews, whose strength on the puck has been a marvel all season, undressed Dion “Sloppy Seconds” Phaneuf on his way to the front of the net during the first minute of overtime. Cory Sarich came to the aid of Phaneuf, drawing a penalty, but it was too late. Toews had already gotten the puck to soft ice in the slot, and a lurking Duncan Keith lifted a backhander into the gaping net for the overtime winner.
In a game where Rene Bourque had two impressive points, Nik Khabibulin stood taller, powering the ‘Hawks to two western Canadian points in Calgary. Khabibulin, who made 32 stops, was stellar all night, and stymied Flames chances in each of the three regulation periods.
The first intermission found the ‘Hawks trailing on a Bourque goal, but Bolland changed that early in the second. Bolland fanned on a shot near the inside hash mark, but the loose puck found him after his momentum carried him to the near post. He hit the open net, and tied the game at one. Later in the same period, a Todd Bertuzzi slashing penalty gave the ‘Hawks a man advantage, and the Flames penalty killing unit allowed Patrick Kane to see daylight coming off the sideboards. Kane took a few strides into the middle of the ice, and roofed a quick wrist shot past Flames goaltender Mikka Kipprusoff. It was Kane’s fifteenth of the season and another ultra-impressive goal from the twenty year-old American winger, who leads all Western Conference forwards in All-Star votes.
But, the Flames were able to tie the game on a David Moss goal just minutes later, and the race to win the game in regulation was on. To no avail, the teams brought their tie into the overtime frame, where Toews helped Keith win the game and the extra point.
For the Fifth Feather, though, the side story of the game could be summed up by John’s text message following the tilt: “I think it’s struck midnight for Matt Walker.” Walker, who logged seven minutes of ice in the final regulation frame, less than only Keith and Brent Seabrook, looked terrible all evening. He made two major mistakes at the Calgary blue line, one ending up in the back of the net, and he also continued to miss pass recipients with regularity. He has seemingly been exposed for the eighth defenseman he is – not that there’s anything wrong with that – without Joel Quennville and Mike Haviland noticing. What happens tonight for the defensive crew is anyone’s guess, but I somehow doubt the staff will remove Walker from the line-up. Also, Cam Barker saw only four third period minutes.
The bottom line … again: the ‘Hawks get two big points in a big game. Doing so, they counted on goaltending and solid play from all four lines, as well as positive contributions from the power play. Only ex-‘Hawk Rene Bourque can stop them now.