For the second straight game, the Hawks played a sloppy two periods and went into the final intermission somehow holding the lead. Then for the second straight game, they tightened up their game and put it away in the final 20 minutes.
Holding a 2-1 lead going into the final frame, the Hawks were the beneficiary of a lucky break when Greg Zanon’s dump in sailed over Cristobal Huet and into the netting above the glass. With a brief 5-on-3 advantage and the face-off in the Wild end, Troy Brouwer kicked the loose puck back to Brian Campbell. The puck swung to Patrick Kane on the half-boards. Kane stick-handled a bit and then sent a laser into the back of the net, short-side.
Seven minutes later, after the Hawks killed a penalty of their own, Jonathan Toews found Marian Hossa streaking behind the Wild defense. Hossa came in on a 2-on-1 with Kris Versteeg, made a drag move around a diving Wild defenseman, and was strong enough to get the puck to the net even though his stick hit the Wild player on his follow-through. Hossa scooped up the juicy rebound and deposited it into the empty net to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead and effectively finish any chance Minnesota had.
Up until the third period, though, the Hawks played some of their sloppiest hockey of the season. They allowed a ton of odd-man rushes. There were fire drills all around Huet and they kept coughing up the puck near the blue lines. That is not a recipe for success.
The fortunate thing – and something all Hawk fans have to get used to – is even if they’re playing poorly, their superior talent is still enough to get by. Tonight was a perfect example of that.
The Wild struck first when Guillaume Latendresse banged home a loose puck on an odd-man rush. Latendresse was all over the ice and easily could’ve added a couple more goals if it wasn’t for some timely saves by Huet.
The Hawks responded with an awkward tic-tac-toe play four minutes later. Duncan Keith got the puck at the point and fired it cross-ice to Versteeg. The pass was behind him so Versteeg had to reach back for the pass. He swung around and hit a wide-open John Madden on the doorstep. With a wide-open net, Madden hit the post, grabbed his own rebound and then put it in the empty net to tie the game.
Marian Hossa scored his first goal in the second period after Patrick Sharp stripped Harding of the puck behind the net. It swung around to Hossa who let go of a shot the instant it hit his stick and the Hawks had a lead they’d never lose.
—Marian Hossa has the quickest release I have ever seen.
–Since it’s bound to come up at some point, here is the biggest difference between Martin Havlat and Hossa: Havlat needs to have smart players on his line; Hossa just needs a couple warm bodies. What I mean by that is for Havlat to be as effective as he can be, he needs at least one guy he can trust on the ice. With Latendresse on his line, he has that and lo and behold, Havlat has become a point-per-game player again. Then, Latendresse went off with an injury early in the third after getting hit in the foot with a slap shot and Havlat was nowhere to be seen for the remainder of the game.
Hossa can play with the top line and he can play with the fourth line. It really doesn’t matter; you’re going to get the same thing from him every time. So yeah, just in case you hear otherwise, the Hawks are far better off.
—Derek Boogaard– The heartfelt story of a big man who makes soft plays starring Dolph Lundgren.
–A big congratulations to Team USA who brought home the gold medal in IIHF World Junior Championships against Canada. The Americans jumped out to a 5-3 lead late in the third only to have Oilers’ farmhand Jordan Eberle score two goals in the final three minutes to send it to overtime.
Less than five minutes into the extra frame after Canada was stoned on an odd-man rush, John Carlson (’08 1st round pick of the Capitals) came down the other way leading a 3-on-1 of his own, he looked off the goalie, then fired in a low hard one for the championship winner. And the best part, the game took place in Saskatoon so there were quite a few disappointed Canucks in attendance.
The gold medal was the USA’s second in tournament history. Their other championship win came in 2004 in a 4-3 win also over the Canadians. You may remember that one. The game-winning goal was scored when Canada goalie Marc-Andre Fleury shot a puck off his own defenseman and it deflected back into his own net. Good times.
*On the Farm*
—Kyle Beach scored a goal on the power play and added an assist in Spokane’s 5-4 loss to the Saskatoon Blades.
—Byron Froese scored a goal in Everett’s 5-3 win over the Kamloops Blades.