Yesterday I wrote game five was a must-win for the Hawks.
And, did they ever, essentially winning the game in the first ten minutes of the first period and controlling the flow from that point forward.
In a two-minute period mid-way through the first period, aided by more silly after-the-whistle Calgary penalties, the Hawks scored three times to take a three-goal lead. The first came on the power play from the stick of Brent Seabrook off a beautiful corner pass from Martin Havlat. As the Hawks worked the puck down the far boards, Seabrook snuck down into the high slot, received the pass and one-timed a blast past Kiprusoff.
Only 90 seconds later, Jonathan Toews won a face-off in the Calgary zone, and when Patrick Kane worked the puck under the goal line, Toews tapped it in front, where Patrick Sharp was waiting. Sharp knocked the puck past Little Kipper, though it took the Hawks a few seconds to realize they had a two-goal lead. Then, just 19 seconds later, Kris Versteeg found a Seabrook rebound and a gaping net, and capped off the two-minute series that won the game when he slipped the puck past Kiprusoff.
From there, the Hawks continued to dominate the game, limiting the Flames to only 20 shots on the evening, including a piddly three in the first frame. The only chink the Hawks’ armor came nearly three minutes into the second period when Dustin Boyd knocked a rebound past Nikolai Khabibulin to make it a two-goal game.
Just five minutes later, though, the puck sprung out in front of the Flames’ net, and Andrew Ladd stuffed it home to seal the proverbial deal. It took what little wind Calgary had in their sails, making it a three-goal game again. Immediately following the goal, Calgary coach Mike Keenan pulled Kiprusoff, inserting little used back-up, Curtis McElhinney.
At the time, Pat Foley seemed to believe Kiprusoff was angry with Keenan, saying Little Kipper slammed the bench door on his way to the dressing room. During the post-game press conference, though, Keenan said he pulled Kiprusoff to give the referees extra time to review the goal, believing at the time the goal could have been kicked in.
Finally, to round out the score sheet, Cam Barker found himself with room and momentum along the wall, and he blasted one past McElhinney.
— The Hawks thoroughly outplayed the Flames in the series’ most lopsided game. In what was likely a must-win game, the Hawks started like a house on fire, and the Flames had no answer. It gives the Hawks an opportunity to take their first post-season series since 1996. To finish the Flames in six, the Hawks must win in Calgary, something they haven’t done since the regular season. One thing’s for sure: Calgary will play like there’s no tomorrow. Indeed, there may not be. Though it’s hard to say after Saturday evening’s game, I think the Hawks should do everything possible to avoid a game seven.
— The Hawks defensemen had an incredible evening. Brent Seabrook was the game’s first star, playing very well physically and scoring a goal with two assists. Brian Campbell moved the puck like he hasn’t since the season’s first few weeks, creating offensive opportunities on coast-to-coast rushes. And, Cam Barker continued his very solid play. Other than his game four gaffe – which was the fault of the Calgary ice – Barker has been one of the best Hawks this series, playing well in his own end and carrying the puck with the confidence of a veteran. His development continues to be one of the season’s bigger stories – albeit one that’s not often talked about.
— Game five featured very little physical play compared to game three. Calgary’s Corey Sarich took a stupid early penalty, and that calmed what little physical momentum Calgary had. Kudos to the Hawks for avoiding the silly confrontations once again Saturday night. Kudos also to Ben Eager for finishing a crunching hit during the third period on Mike Cammalleri, who learned his first lesson on karma, and for finishing off Adam Pardy, who responded to the hit. Pardy’s been one of Calgary’s most physical players, but he met his match in Eager.
— Game six is tomorrow night at 8:30 in Calgary.
— Finally, I’d like to apologize for overlooking Dion Phaneuf in our Friday entry regarding Flames who need an incredible beating. I’ll take the blame for that one. Personally, Phaneuf is my least favorite NHL player, but like Adrian Aucoin, Phaneuf’s been one of the best Hawks’ players during the series.