Yes, Viktor Stalberg used his wheels to generate his second consecutive game-winner, a 5-4 overtime win at home over Nashville. But the story of the night was the dark magic of Patrick Kane in full effect.
Kane scored twice and set up anoher goal by Nick Leddy, but his top five plays of the night did not end in goals. Some nights, Kaner just has that puck on a string, and last night was one of those. If you didn’t see it, too bad. Words can’t do it justice.
Like going to the dentist
The Preds are a team you want to get on top of, but the Hawks found themselves down three different times, and each time they evened the score. Corey Crawford did not have his best night, and Duncan Keith left midway through the second period after taking a shot off his hand, but the Hawks sucked it up and battled all night.
Trailing 3-2 after two periods, the mood in the United Center was one of hopeful anticipation, reminiscent of the up-and-coming team of 2008, rather than the quiet dread of last season.
Another good finish
A minute later, the exclamation point on another empty night on the power play (0 for 7) was an unsuccessful one minute, thirty-five second 5-on-3 . Guh. (Um, Jonathan Toews, Dave Bolland, Patrick Sharp, Kane, and Hossa? Yeah, it was like a super-hero convention, but, in that situation, don’t you want Andrew Brunette, who has half of the team’s power play goals, parked in front?)
With seven minutes left, Michael Frolik (this guy was unbelievable along the boards last night. I think he won 20 board battles and didn’t lose any) won the puck behind the Preds net and found Bryan Bickell at the top of the right circle. Bickell beat Rinne, giving the Hawks their first lead of the game.
But now it was Nashville’s turn to respond. David Legwand did a minute and a half later.
On to overtime, and Stalberg’s heroics. He exploded up the right side, slammed on the brakes in the circle, cut back toward the middle and squeezed a shot between Rinne and the post. Once is happenstance, twice coincidence, but if Stalberg does this again…
The penalty kill gave up a goal. It was on a lengthy 5 on 3 though (nice clearing effort, Bolland.)
Crawford did stop two breakaways.
The Hawks defense by committee deserves credit for hanging in after Keith went out. The other five guys all skated more than fifteen minutes, in most conceivable pairings, led by Niklas Hjalmarsson with 24 minutes.
Nick Leddy, 2 goals, 5 assists, +6 in 11 games.
John Scott, 4 shifts, 2:45 TOI. You know how some things are funny, then they get old and tired, then their very oldness and tiredness becomes funny. This isn’t one of those things.
Next up- pre-game drinks with Dale Tallon and Kris Versteeg Thursday in South Beach.
Topics: Andrew Brunette, Bryan Bickell, Corey Crawford, Dave Bolland, David Legwand, Duncan Keith, John Scott, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, Marian Hossa, Michael Frolik, Nick Leddy, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Pekka Rinne, Viktor Stalberg