This might be the last place on the universe, unless you’re on Darren Pang’s block, where you’ll find goalies getting criticized for lousy play.
For me, goalies have always been the last line of insurance. In case everyone else screws up, the goalie is there to protect the team. A perfect hockey game is one where the goalie doesn’t have to make one save. Everyone else played so stellar, they could’ve used an empty net and still won easily. That’s why I’m never too quick to lay blame at the one guy who’s job it is to cover up everyone else’s mistakes.
With all this being said, Cristobal Huet let in some softies. Could Kris Versteeg have played Chris Kunitz tighter in the corner on a loose puck? Yeah, probably, but that was still a save he should’ve made. Did Matt Walker and Brent Seabrook look like Larry and Moe behind the net with a minute and a half left in the second period? You betcha, but Huet didn’t exactly control the rebound properly. I thought Q left Huet in for a little too long last night. It wouldn’t have been shocking to see Huet get the hook 9 minutes into the game. Maybe it was the right decision though, because Huet came up with some terrific saves late in the first period and in the second period to keep the ‘Hawks (briefly) tied.
After falling behind 2-0 nine minutes into the game, the ‘Hawks started their first climb back when Toews pulled a face-off back to Cam Barker. Barker took a few steps across the blue and let it rip. Toews got a piece of it and the ‘Hawks were on the board.
Toews notched his second goal six and a half minutes into the second when he stepped out from behind the net and let loose a wiggler that found it’s way past Marc-Andre Fleury. The ‘Hawks thought they took the lead with six minutes left in the period. Barker fired another shot from the point that Toews re-directed into the net. It appeared Toews got his first career hat trick. Construction hats (last night’s giveaway) rained upon the ice. After the prolonged delay, the war room in Toronto took an extended look at it and determined that Toews tipped the puck with a high stick.
I only caught one replay of the play and I didn’t see anything that was conclusive to overturn the call. The play was so quick, Toews’ stick at one point was above the crossbar but I couldn’t tell where his stick was when he made contact with the puck. Whatever it was, this was the second time in less than a week that the ‘Hawks were on the wrong end of a high sticking call. Consider the momentum swung.
After a Penguins power play, Miroslav Satan and Max Talbot scored almost 35 seconds apart to give the Pens a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame. It was at this point Q had seen enough and opened up the 3rd with Antii Niemi in net. Whether it was to spark the ‘Hawks or tired of some sub-par saves, it certainly worked.
Pittsburgh obliged to let the ‘Hawks back into the game when Satan took a lazy penalty 30 seconds into the period. Cam Barker found Jonathan Toews at the side of the net for his third power play goal of the night and this one stood up. More construction helmets rained upon the ice. (By the way, when are the first horror stories going to come out of this game from little Billy sitting in section 104 that got cranked in the head from a construction helmet flying in from the upper level? I have to think there are more than a few people with some welts on their heads this morning.)
The ‘Hawks continued their assault on the Penguins trying to get the tying goal. Fleury made some outstanding saves robbing Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg on more than a few chances. Finally with just under five minutes left, the HaBolLadd line came through. Just as a Penguin penalty was expiring, James Wisniewski found Martin Havlat alone at the red line. Havlat broke into the zone with a full head of steam, fired the puck towards the net, Ladd poked the rebound towards the net, and somehow Bolland tipped it past Fleury to tie the game at 4.
With 22 seconds left in regulation, Versteeg took a pretty bad penalty in the Penguin zone when he yanked Evgeni Malkin’s legs out from under him. Already in a 4-on-4 situation, the Penguins now opened up the overtime with a deadly 4-on-3. With only a few seconds left on the penalty, Sergei Gonchar found Malkin at the top of the circles who lasered the puck into the top corner. Game over.
This was the second time in a row an Eastern Conference opponent (the Rangers being the other) came into the United Center and walked out with an overtime win after the ‘Hawks took a lazy penalty late. After trailing by two goals twice, the ‘Hawks were certainly fortunate to walk out with anything and one point feels kind of nice.