And that, kids, is why you don’t spot an NHL team a three goal lead, specifically a team with a world-class goaltender.
The Panthers jumped out to the big lead after the first period, thanks to some shoddy goaltending from Corey Crawford and a horrific giveaway by Niklas Hjalmarsson.
David Booth struck first after Crawford kicked out a huge rebound from a Michal Repik point shot. Booth was there to bang it home after he beat Nick Leddy to the net.
Five minutes later, with the Panthers on a line change, Hjalmarsson had all the time in the world to skate the puck out of his end. But as has been his custom this year, he simply buried his head and fired the puck into the neutral zone. The puck deflected off a stick and went right to Sergei Samsonov who led the scoring rush. The puck came back to Clay Wilson who put a shot towards Crawford so soft that it barely touched the back of the net as it snuck through his legs.
Then in a swift kick of poetic justice, Marty Reasoner closed out the period with a goal on a broken play. The goal came with less than six seconds in the period and though the shot was well placed, Crawford didn’t give himself the best chance to make a save.
The Hawks dominated the next two frames. They cut the lead to one after the second period thanks to goals from Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Both goals were scored on Vokoun’s glove side on bang-bang plays. Hossa’s scoring play, in particular, was a thing of beauty as he placed the puck in Florida’s zone perfectly for Bryan Bickell. Bickell found Dave Bolland who fed Hossa for the one-timer.
In the third, the Hawks seemed to forget their first two goals came from lifting the puck off the ice. The majority, if not all, of their best chances on net were at Vokoun’s feet. That’s simply not going to get it done with Vokoun at the top of his game. He is one of the better goalies in the league at taking away the bottom of the net. Even though the Hawks had numerous scrambles in front, they couldn’t get any elevation on their shots, and therefore couldn’t get the equalizer.
–Is anyone really surprised that Marty Reasoner potted the winner? I figured he’d score one tonight after the hoopla we caused by merely mentioning his name last week in our Committed Indian column. It was curious that Pat Foley, the king of the backstory, didn’t once mention Reasoner’s brief tenure as a Blackhawk this summer. Maybe while he was confusing Brian Campbell with Bryan Bickell, he forgot. Or maybe I just missed it.
–Florida’s defense is horrifically bad. They must have turned over the puck a half dozen times in the third period alone. Erik Gudbranson better bring some friends with him next year.
–Maybe next time Joel Quenneville thinks about starting Corey Crawford in 12 straight games, he’ll have this game to remind him it might not be a great idea. While Crawford was terrific in Toronto and coaches don’t like to change things during a winning streak, it was quite obvious Crawford was wearing down. Lo and behold, he made just two more saves than goals he allowed.
–It might also be a good reminder to Joel Quenneville next time he has the goalie pulled and an opportunity to choose his six men on the ice, Marian Hossa is a better option than Tomas Kopecky. Just a hunch on that one.