Going into the third period, the Hawks and Canucks skated to a 3-3 tie. Neither team played stifling defense with each taking turns coughing up the puck deep in their own zone. Even with all the shaky play going on, no one could have predicted what was in store for the final frame.
Just four minutes into the period, Mats Sundin found a loose puck and beat Nikolai Khabibulin from the top of the circle after the Hawks just killed off a too many men penalty.
Almost exactly two minutes later, Patrick Sharp picked up the puck behind the Canucks’ net and cut it hard to the front. He drew three Canucks around him, the puck found Adam Burish, and he beat Roberto Luongo to the far side to knot up the score at 4.
After the Hawks killed off a dumb Dustin Byfuglien penalty and were unable to capitalize on Ryan Kesler’s interference, Troy Brouwer was called on a soft interference call. Brouwer went hard to the net; Alex Burrows was completely out of position and lost his balance as he made contact with Brouwer. Burrows fell back into Luongo and Brouwer was sent off to the box.
In the most predictable of sequences, Daniel Sedin waited a whole 8 seconds before he roofed his second goal of the game to put Vancouver back up on top.
Then just forty-five seconds later, a loose puck hopped over Willie Mitchell’s stick behind his own net. Patrick Kane was right there to pick it up and wrapped it right into the net to tie the score at 5.
The Hawks didn’t wait long to recapture their first lead since the ten minute mark of the second period. Shane O’ Brien certainly obliged when he hooked Dustin Byfuglien off the ensuing face-off. The Hawks won the draw in Vancouver’s zone, Jonathan Toews found the puck on the goal line, drove hard to the net, banked it off Alex Edler’s skate, and in between Luongo’s legs.
Less than three minutes later, Patrick Kane scored a goal that will be replayed for years and years on the United Center jumbotron. He picked up a puck at his own blue line, completely undressed Shane O’ Brien, and scored on a backhand shot that maybe three other people in the league could have made. The goal gave Kane his first career hat trick and the Hawks first playoff hat trick since the immortal Gary Suter lit up the Maple Leafs for three in the ’94 playoffs, a game that is more remembered for Roenick’s OT winner than Suter’s three.
With three and a half minutes left, the Canucks refused to go away and had a couple of golden opportunities to cut the lead in half. This time, the puck bounced Khabibulin’s and the Hawks way. The final three minutes ran off the clock and with that, the Hawks had finally put away a Vancouver squad that was the media’s Western Conference pick du jour at the end of the year.
Leftover Thoughts from Game 6 and the Series
— I hate to do this because it only feeds to the lowest common denominator of Hawk fans(a.k.a. none of the Feather’s readership) but I think Patrick Kane finally proved that anyone who has said, “he needs to beef up” or “he’s soft” or “he’s going to be invisible in the playoffs” is officially hockey retarded. Give him any space and he’ll make you pay. Vancouver decided in this series they were going to let him beat them instead of Martin Havlat and mercy, did they pay dearly. Kane finished the series with 6 goals and 2 assists.
Yes, his defensive play leaves something to be desired and eventually he will learn. In the meantime, we should enjoy the fact that we have an offensive mastermind who is only 20 years old and looks to be a force for years to come.
–Let’s all take a deep breath and really ask ourselves if we want the offensive juggernaut known as the Detroit Red Wings squaring off against the Hawks. If the Hawks put forth a defensive effort they did tonight, the Wings will finish the Hawks off in 3 games. I would prefer the Ducks for a million reasons but just to name a few: home ice, they’d be coming off a 7 game series, Jonas Hiller is due to cool off any time now, they’re another team that will think they can beat up the Hawks….ok that’s enough for now.
–Lost in Patrick Kane’s hat trick was Jonathan Toews’ 2 goals and an assist. After Toews was questioned for disappearing in this series, he showed up in a big way tonight. I was discussing this with Bobby as we took turns recessitating each other during the game, but it’s humorous how the media picks out one guy from every team and keeps asking them, “Why aren’t you scoring?”
If you pick out a struggling player from each team in the playoffs, you could put together quite a squad. Apparently no one with media credentials has heard of sample size.
—Nikolai Khabibulin probably played one of the best games in NHL history where the goalie gave up five goals. He made a few huge saves that very easily could have extended Vancouver’s lead. None were bigger than the save he made on Mason Raymond’s redirection from a point shot with less than a minute left in the second period. A goal there and Vancouver would’ve gone into the third with a lead. Their record this year when leading after the second: 30-1-3. Yeah, that was kind of a big save.
–The highlight of Dale Tallon celebrating in his skybox was seeing Stan Bowman pretending to be excited about the win. This series win just about cinches up any small chance Bowman had of taking over for Tallon at the end of the year. I’ll venture a guess that an extension for Tallon will be announced relatively shortly.
–At the home opener this year, I picked up the final edition of “The Blue Line”. In it was a column from former Afternoon Salooner Dan McNeil where he basically said this year was Conference Finals or bust for the Hawks. When I read it, I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it. In October, the only realistic goal Hawk fans should have set for themselves was making the playoffs.
Now they find themselves four wins from the Campbell Conference Trophy. We’ll have a couple days to recap just how those goals changed throughout the year and why setting a goal like that in October is only setting yourself up for disappointment.
–You know I have to toot my own horn on this one, but I’ve expressed ad nauseum throughout this season that the ’08-09 Hawks have reminded of the ’94-95 squad. Well, that team also knocked out the Canucks in the second round(albeit in a sweep, but nonetheless) only to lose to the Wings in the Conference Finals. So there’s another reason why we should be rooting for the Ducks to come up with 2 more wins: to shut me up.