Good thing the bulk of the Red Wing games came early in the season for the Hawks.
All things considered, Sunday’s regular season finale at the United Center packed a punch, with the Hawks looking to grab the top spot in the Western Conference and the Wings playing to grab the five seed – and, with it, the right to miss the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Things seemed to move a step above a typical regular season pace much of the afternoon.
Alas, the Hawks would grab the shorter end of the stick, falling in overtime 3-2.
The game’s first goal belonged to the Hawks, and it came on the power play – that’s two games in a row for you nonbelievers – and it was very similar to Jonathan Toews’ goal from Friday evening in Colorado. Again, Toews took the puck at his spot on the power play – down on the goal line about 12 feet from his near post – and drove to the front. This time, though, the puck squirted to the far post where Dave Bolland shoveled it in for the lead.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the game’s second period was not settled in their favor. Despite outshooting the Wings 16-3 during the frame, the period’s only goal came off the stick of Patrick Eaves with the help of John Madden’s right skate. It came on a 3-on-3 break after a save by Antti Niemi. Niemi’s save, which came off a rather harmless shot from his glove side, produced a rebound to the blocker side. Rather than journeying to the boards, though, the rebound hit the outside of Madden’s inside skate and sat in front of an open portion of the net before Eaves, the third forward in, banged it home.
The Wings would take the lead in the third when Tomas Holmstrom got a piece of a Brian Rafalski shot on its way to the net.
Then, with about seven minutes left in the third as another strong shift from the Toews/Hossa/Sharp line came to a close, Marian Hossa sent a pass to the far post on a 2-on-2. The pass found the skate of Colin Fraser, who had Brad Stuart draped all over him. The puck went past the goal line, and after a video review of the play, the referees determined the puck had not been kicked in.
The tie game would persist until Stuart broke it about mid-way through overtime. On the play, Patrick Kane was on the second leg of a double shift and could barely stride when his man, Stuart, cut to the net in the Hawks zone. Stuart collected a feed from Dan Cleary, and the Hawks settled into second place in the conference when the Stuart shot hit the twine.
Here We Go
Bring on the seventh seeded Nashville Predators. The Hawks grabbed four of the teams’ six match-ups this regular season.