At some point in the season, the Blackhawks will figure out a way to win games comfortably. Until that day comes, we’ll just have to deal with all the high-pressure games they’re playing in November.
The Hawks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to Evegeni Nabokov coughing up the puck behind his own net. Jordan Hendry fed Brent Sopel and Sopel’s slap shot found its way to the back of the net.
Nabokov bailed his team out afterwards though. Following the goal, the Hawks were getting some high-quality chances and Nabokov turned them away each time.
After the Hawks failed to clear their zone towards the end of the first period, San Jose’s top line of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Jason Demers made them pay. Thornton scooped up a loose puck, fed Heatley at the top of the circles and he snuck a shot past Cristobal Huet to even up the score.
The Sharks carried over their strong play into the second period with two goals within the period’s first two minutes. Ben Eager received an extra minor penalty after getting into a scrap with Doug Murray. On the ensuing Sharks power play, the puck was rattling around the top of the circles. With Huet looking through a couple players, Jason Demers found the puck and quickly snapped it into the low left corner before Huet could pick it up.
45 seconds later, Patrick Marleau came streaking down the slot; both Hawk defensemen were caught behind the net, Joe Pavelski found Marleau and he had two high-quality shots on Huet. His second one went in.
The Hawks chipped away at the lead six minutes later after Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane finished off an excellent shift. Toews found Kane to the right of the cage and his one-timer fluttered over Nabokov’s shoulder to cut the lead to 3-2.
With less than two minutes in the period, Andrew Ladd made his patented ‘toe-drag-shoot at the goalie’s 5-hole’ move. Nabokov kicked out a rebound and Ladd got another whack at it. Nabokov let out yet another rebound. The mass confusion in front allowed John Madden to crash the net unmolested, find the puck, and bang it into the empty net.
The Hawks survived a major scare at the end of the period when Brent Seabrook’s errand pass with less than 5 seconds left led to the Sharks getting three major scoring opportunities. Huet stopped the first two and Duncan Keith stopped the third to leave the score at 3-3.
Save for a few isolated chances, both teams played the third period like they wanted to split a point and that’s exactly what happened.
In the first shift of the overtime, Nabokov stopped a Troy Brouwer tip. The rebound went into the corner. When Brouwer and Toews’ forecheck led to a Sharks giveaway, Toews found Seabrook streaking down the slot. Seabrook buried it and the Hawks completed their comeback with Seabrook’s second overtime goal of the year.
—Considering the Hawks were without Kris Versteeg’s services and the constant line-jumbling was giving me an aneurysm, I was overjoyed the Hawks got a single point out of this game. The extra second was icing on the cake. The win gave the Hawks a perfect 4-0 homestand before their long trip out west.
–I would expect the Hawks to give serious thought to placing Dave Bolland on LTIR this week before they head out on their trip. Bryan Bickell is a perfectly acceptable 4th line player. Jordan Hendry is not. If Versteeg is out for any length of time, it’s going to be very difficult to rack up points on the road playing with one and a half lines.
–Speaking of, Bickell played the best game of his brief Hawk career. He saw some time with Kane and Toews, created some excellent pressure from his forechecking, and even had a few chances of his own. More of that please.
–The Jeremy Roenick stuff was excellent as expected. I thought the song choice and highlights were top-notch. Maybe they could have spliced in some of Pat Foley’s calls but it was good, nonetheless. Anyone curious about my feelings of Roenick, I laid it out pretty nicely following his retirement announcement.
*On the Farm*
The Rockford IceHogs were shut out at home on Friday night by the Texas Heat 4-0. After a scoreless first, the Heat scored once in the second and then scored three goals in a 4 minute span halfway through the third. Corey Crawford handled 23 0f the 27 shots he faced.
Saturday night was a much better result. The IceHogs opened up their game against the Abbotsford Heat with three goals in the first three minutes. Brian Connelly scored his second goal of the year with help from Danny Bois and Mark Cullen. Bois added a goal of his own 20 seconds later with assists from Matt Keith and J.C. Sawyer. Cullen scored two minutes later on the power play with freshly called up Maxime Tanguay and Peter MacArthur notching assists.
After the Heat got on the board at the 11 minute mark, Jack Skille scored on the power play with under two minutes left in the first period. Brian Connelly and Mike Brennan had assists.
The Heat scored two goals in the second to cut the deficit to 4-3. In the third, Akim Aliu scored his fifth goal of the year with assists going to Darryl Boyle and Bryan Bickell. Nathan Davis scored his seventh of the year four minutes later with Bracken Kearns getting the lone assist.
Joseph Fallon got the start for Rockford in place of the slumping Corey Crawford and stopped 27 0f 30 shots he faced.
–The IceHogs recalled the aforementioned Tanguay, Sawyer, and also goalie Alec Richards from the Toledo Walleyes on Saturday. Does Richards arrival spell doom for Crawford? Well, it’s certainly not good. Crawford has been below average for awhile now. This is a situation to watch closely in the next couple weeks.
—Shawn Lalonde was held scoreless in Belleville’s Friday night 4-1 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs but he did get into two fights in a very chippy game. The two teams combined for over 100 penalty minutes. On Saturday, Lalonde had two assists and another fight in a 5-2 win over the Niagara IceDogs.
—Byron Froese notched two assists, both coming on the power play, in Everett’s 4-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night. Saturday, he did nothing along with the rest of his team in a 4-0 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
—Kyle Beach had his second hat trick of the season and added an assist for good measure in Spokane’s 6-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday. He had an assist in Spokane’s 1-0 win over the Kelowna Rockets. Beach also got into a fight towards the end of the second period.
—Dylan Olsen had 2 of UMD’s 50 shots in a 3-2 loss to Michigan Tech on Friday. Olsen was also a -1. Dan DeLisle did not dress. On Saturday, the Bulldogs threw another 48 shots to the net and this time, they scored 8 goals in a 8-1 win over Michigan Tech. Olsen didn’t get a point for the second straight game. DeLisle skated after being a scratch in the two previous games and was also pointless.
—Brandon Pirri had an assist in RPI’s 5-2 win over Clarkson on Friday. He also had an assist on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence.
—Billy Sweatt didn’t register a point for Colorado College in their weekend sweep over Minnesota State.