The Blackhawks and Predators spent the first 40 minutes putting 21,000+ into a coma or in serious want of a lobotomy. They spent the last 20 minutes taking them on a wild ride that didn’t end until well after the final horn.
The madness started early on in the third during a Blackhawks power play. Nashville came down on a 2-on-1 with Dustin Byfuglien playing the role of a defenseman. When the saucer pass went over a sprawled out Byfuglien, David Legwand was in alone on Antti Niemi. Niemi robbed Legwand of a goal when he went post-to-post to prevent the short-handed goal.
Shortly after Nashville’s penalty expired, Andrew Ladd sprung John Madden on a clear breakaway. Madden did a teriffic job of staying onsides, (if, in fact, he did stay onsides at all) faked a shot, then slid a backhander between Dan Ellis’ legs.
Six minutes later, Madden was waiting around the Predators’ blue line again. This time, he received a pass from Bryan Bickell and came in one-on-one against Ryan Suter. Madden teed up a shot from the top of the circles and snuck it under Ellis’s right arm to give the Hawks their first lead at 3-2.
Madden continued his superb play by drawing a penalty at the end of his shift giving the Hawks a man advantage and a chance to ice the game away with under 8 minutes to play.
After the Hawks won the subsequent face-off in Nashville’s end, Brian Campbell ripped a slap shot from the blue line and with Troy Brouwer providing the screen in front, the puck went right past Ellis to give the Hawks a seemingly insurmountable two-goal lead.
Of course, it wasn’t that easy. It never is with the Predators. Two minutes later, Madden’s line seemed to be on the ice forever. In the midst of a delayed penalty, Dan Hamhuis fired a slap shot that ricocheted off Bickell’s shin guard and skipped right past Niemi.
Not even a minute later, Cody Franson put a seemingly harmless shot on net. It somehow beat Niemi and the Hawks two-goal lead evaporated like a fart.
With overtime looking inevitable and under a minute in regulation, the Hawks top line of Kane-Toews-Brouwer pinned down Nashville’s top line of Erat-Arnott-Sullivan. Duncan Keith did a nice job of keeping a loose puck in Nashville’s zone. After a goal mouth scramble, the puck squirted back to Keith. He quickly found Patrick Kane wide-open at the face-off dot. Kane took one step and had his shot blocked. It came right back to him, though, and he ticketed his second shot right into the top corner to give the Hawks a 5-4 lead.
After being on the ice already for 30 seconds and just scoring an exhilarating goal, Joel Quenneville took a huge gamble by leaving his top scoring line on the ice with just 45 seconds to play. It nearly blew up in his face when the Predators top line pinned the Hawks deep in their zone and had several quality chances to score the equalizer.
In the end, the Hawks escaped with the two points and said goodbye, once and for all, to the Nashville Predators in the 2009-2010 Regular Season.
–Joel Quenneville is having a pretty ‘meh’ year in my opinion. At least in terms of in-game decisions. Nursing a one goal lead with less than a minute to play and having guys like Andrew Ladd and John Madden sit on the bench while Patrick Kane is left trying to win puck battles against Shea Webber is the definition of a bad idea. And that’s just one in a laundry list of them so far this season. I still think he’s a good coach and this isn’t me calling for his dismissal, it’s just something to keep in mind when his name starts getting thrown around for the Jack Adams Trophy.
—With the four game sweep of Nashville and Detroit in the past week, the Hawks have now moved 8 points ahead of the Predators and 12 ahead of the Red Wings. I’m not saying they should start making room for a “2009-2010 Central Division Champions” banner yet, I’m just saying.
–After the Hawks went up 4-2 late in the third, I started thinking about how nearly a year ago, the Hawks faced Detroit in a home-and-home only down 4 points in the division. The Wings spent the next two games teaching the Hawks that they simply weren’t at their level. A 4-2 win tonight would’ve probably solidified that comparison a bit more. Of course, one minute later, I was cursing myself for allowing that thought to creep in.
—Martin Erat is one annoying bastard. We’ve said it a million times already this year, but you could mark him down for at least one point every time he plays the Hawks. In other news, he scored Nashville’s second goal tonight.
–Watching Patrick Kane skate around at the end of warm-ups is worth the price of admission. If you’re into that sort of thing. Kane is routinely the last player to leave the ice and the only time he misses the net is when he hits the post. Otherwise, every one of his shots is lasered into the top corner. It really is a thing to be seen.
*On the Farm*
–Rockford had a very productive weekend.
On Saturday night, they beat the Milwaukee Admirals 4-2. After jumping out early to a 2-0 lead with goals from Kyle Greentree and Danny Bois, the Admirals scored two goals in the second to tie the game at 2.
In the third, Brian Connelly scored on the power play with helpers from Jack Skille and Daryl Boyle. Rob Klinkhammer iced the game away with an empty net goal. Skille also assisted on the IceHogs first goal and was named second star of the game. The first star was Brian Connelly with a goal and an assist.
Alec Richards was recalled from Toledo and stopped 26 of 28 shots for the win.
–Sunday night was a wild one at the Allstate Arena. The IceHogs jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first paced by goals from Jack Skille and Jassen Cullimore. Skille’s goal was a short-handed one with assists going to Bracken Kearns and Brian Connelly. Connelly also had an assist on Cullimore’s goal.
The Wolves scored the next two goals to give them a 3-2 lead and then Rockford exploded.
It started with a goal towards the end of the second period from Daryl Boyle. Peter MacArthur and Rob Klinkhammer assisted on it. Then Skille and Mark Cullen scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the final frame. Evan Brophey added a short-handed empty net goal to give Rockford a 6-3 lead. The Wolves scored once more with three seconds left, but by then the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Peter MacArthur led the Hogs in scoring on the night with three assists. Skille had two goals while Connelly and Klinkhammer each had two assists.
Joseph Fallon stopped 33 of 37 shots.
—Byron Froese had two assists in Everett’s 6-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans.
—Kyle Beach was held scoreless and was -2 in Spokane’s 5-4 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. At the end of the game, there was some post-game shenanigans and Beach, along with two other teammates, received 5 minute fighting majors and game misconducts. They didn’t start any of it, though, as Portland’s Brad Ross was given the instigator penalty.