It wasn’t sexy, it was dreadfully dull at some points, but in the end, all that mattered was the Hawks took another full two points from a Western Conference team. The Hawks surrounded a very solid second period with two defensive-oriented periods in the first and third. That was enough to get the job done.
The key play in the game came halfway through the second period. With the Hawks leading 2-1, Justin Williams carried the puck down the right wing on a 2-on-2 rush with the rest of his teammates finishing a line change. Williams fired a shot well wide of the net and the puck rang all the way out of the zone and sprung Dave Bolland on a 3-on-1 the other way. Bolland’s attempted pass to Bryan Bickell was a little out of his reach but Fernando Pisani was streaking down the wing. He gathered the puck and roofed it over Jonathan Quick.
That turned out to be the difference. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly an innocent play can turn into a complete disaster. That’s what happened for Justin Williams and company Sunday evening.
–John Scott versus Kevin Westgarth, part 2. This time Westgarth didn’t require a face transplant afterwards so it had to be considered a success for him. The fight did exactly what it was supposed to, though. Neither team looked particularly engaged in the affair up until that point. It seemed like the prolonged fight reminded every one on the ice they were there to play a game. Good stuff.
–Kudos to Joel Quenneville for sticking to his game plan of matching up the Kopitar line with Dave Bolland, Fernando Pisani and Bryan Bickell. After a first period where Kopitar and company completely outclassed Bolland’s line, it was somewhat surprising to see Quenneville go right back to that match-up. Sure enough, though, the longer the game went, the better Bolland’s line played. It was a very patient move by a veteran coach that turned out roses.
–Hopefully either Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa return by Wednesday. The Hawks desperately need a puck handler on the power play unit. That being said, it was funny to hear the crowd getting restless during the final Hawks power play. The Hawks were clearly just running the clock out, the equivalent of running the ball on 3rd and long to simply run off precious seconds at the end of the game. Yet there was the United Center faithful asking why a power play unit consisting of Jake Dowell and Jordan Hendry was having a tough time establishing the offensive zone.
–Two games this week. Both against Central Division teams in Nashville and Columbus. If Kane and Hossa are both back by the end of the week, things should start to look better, on the ice and in the standings.