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Baby Steps: Kings 2 @ Blackhawks 3, Game Recap

March 11, 2010

I'm baaaaaack!

The night kicked off with a roar and nearly ended with a whimper if not for Patrick Sharp, who got everything going in the first place.

Well. Sort of. Truthfully, the first goal was the combined work of Patrick Sharp’s BFFs Kane and Burish, and that second one was off a miscue by the Kings’ Richardson that had the puck landing right on David Bolland’s stick, but the Shooter did what he does best, finishing both chances to give the Blackhawks first, the lead, and second, the win.

Not that the Hawks’ recent second period woes have gone away, necessarily. After the lead by one in a first period that they dominated, the Blackhawks found themselves, once again, outscored in the second frame. This time, though, it wasn’t quite as disastrous as 4-0 or 5-0. They gave up just 2 goals this time–one to a wraparound by Dustin Brown, and the second less than 2 minutes later to Anze Kopitar, who fired off a quick wrister to beat Antti Niemi during the power play.

This time, though, the Hawks didn’t wait until the third to get themselves in gear. Less than 3 minutes after the Kings, who have a perfect record when leading after 2 periods, spotted their 2-1 lead, the third line of Ladd, Madden and Versteeg got to work, driving to the net and creating just enough havoc for Versteeg to bury his own rebound off a sharp angle while Quick was flailing on his back.

The third period was a tighter affair, with both teams getting good looks at the net and coming up short, so to overtime the game went. Two minutes in, Kim Johnsson forced a Richardson turnover that got the puck to Bolland, who saw an unmanned Sharp by the blue line. Luckily for the Hawks, this was one of the few breakaways Sharp scored on. Hawks win in overtime.

Notes:

  • If not for Sharp spotting the Hawks 2 goals, the story of the night would have been Burish’s return to the ice. They’re BFFs, though, so they can share the spotlight on this one. Adam Burish, who missed the first 65 games of the season due to a pre-season ACL injury, had been telling anyone who would listen that he’s ready to play and he can’t wait to be back on the ice. It showed, because 8 seconds into his first shift of the season, Burish found Sharp in front of the net and got himself an assist. Less than a minute later, he was fighting Clune. Welcome back, Burish.
  • The game, as a whole, can still be called a shit sandwich. Strong first period play amounting to not a lot at all, an even, decent third period (overtime included), and between that, a lackluster 20 minutes of pretending to play hockey. The difference, this time, is that the stink isn’t as foul, and we were able to escape with a close win. Baby steps, right?
  • Special teams need a lot of work. Since coming back from the Olympics the Blackhawks have killed only 7 of 9 penalties (77.77%) and scored 4 out of 21 power play opportunities (19.04%). While they have most of the basics right, at least, they’re really starting to look like a classic case of analysis paralysis. They’ve only scored once on a 5-on-3 this season, did you know? This after Quenneville’s called for a timeout at least thrice before a 5-on-3 opportunity. Far be it from me to understand the intricacies required when playing with the man advantage, but when there are two men less to cover your guys, you would think you’d find a way to get to the back of the net.
  • Depressing stat of the night, courtesy of gmh over at SecondCityHockey: Last night marked the first time since February 6 (against St. Louis) that a Hawks goalie posted a SV% above .900.
  • That being said, I really hope the trend picks up and just puts the wailing and gnashing of teeth of Blackhawks fans to rest. Going back before the Olympic break when it seemed we couldn’t win without going to the shootout, the team does seem to be playing sloppier hockey than we’ve become accustomed to seeing from November and December, but somehow–through these goalie crises and falling sky scenarios–the team’s finding ways to win. Sometimes that’s enough. And if you’re concerned because there are no shootouts in the playoffs, think about this for a minute: of the 6 games that have ended in overtime for the Blackhawks this season, they haven’t lost a single one.
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