At this point, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like so long as the Hawks get two points at the end of the game. It’s becoming quite clear that the Hawks (or at least the ones that matter) appear to have hit the proverbial wall. So long as they collect points in this recent downturn, that’s certainly better from where they were at the beginning of the season.
Just as been the case since the middle of March, the Hawks were once again carried by the few while the rest of the team hung on to their coat-tails. Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell each logged over 30 minutes of ice time. Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews were near the 25 minute threshold. All three Hawk goals came from one line: the Toews line.
The Hawks third goal was a gift from the Gods. Just a minute and a half after Columbus scored a back-breaking third goal to take their first lead, Bryan Bickell snapped off his 1,876th wrist shot from just inside the blue line of the season. The puck somehow snuck under Mathieu Garon’s left arm to tie the game.
In overtime, both teams traded good chances. The Jackets biffed all of theirs. Garon made terrific saves on the Hawks. Then in the all-important shootout, Scott Arniel chose the unknown versus the known and gave the nod to two shooters who don’t have more than 6 NHL games collectively under their belts. Crawford stopped their shots relatively easily. After Patrick Kane was unable to get enough elevation on his back-hand attempt, Viktor Stalberg pulled off the same move with a little more speed and that was the winner.
–After seeing Garon come approximately 40 feet outside the net on Jonathan Toews’s attempt, there was only one move that was going to work on him. The first guy who came to mind that should be given an opportunity was Viktor Stalberg. Sure enough, there he was going third. Great call by Joel Quenneville to give Stalberg the nod when everyone automatically assumed it was Marian Hossa’s turn. Of course, the important thing to remember is Quenneville has to submit his shooters before the shootout starts, so perhaps he knew something we all didn’t.
–A Duncan Keith slap-shot to the shinguards was nearly the curtain call to this game. During the 4-on-4 overtime with under 30 seconds left, the Hawks used their timeout to draw up a set face-off play. They won the draw and worked the puck around masterfully and even were lucky enough to have Antoine Vermette break his stick. Then with three Hawks below the hashmarks, Keith’s shot blasted right into R.J. Umberger’s legs and the Jackets had a 3-on-1 the other way.
Fortunately, the Jackets came closer to injuring themselves than they did scoring. Umberger and Vermette were right on top of each other as the puck bounced towards them. Neither player could corral it and Umberger nearly decapitated himself on the goal post.
–We’re all very impressed by Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy in their 19 combined minutes of ice time. They did so many good things, I can’t remember any of them.
–I’m pretty sure Ryan Johnson uses a shinny stick. That thing is tiny.
–The second period was probably the most frustrating period of the season for the Hawks. They spent 10 minutes of the period short-handed. After killing off three straight penalties (Kane’s double minor and Michael Frolik’s interference), the Hawks couldn’t kill off the dreaded 5-on-3 and the game was tied at 2.
–A win on Sunday and we can (finally) start looking at some playoff opponents.