There’s hype, and then there’s the lead-up to this game. It lived up to it and more, seeing as I nearly pissed myself when Troy Brouwer scored in overtime to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3.
Before I get into the rundown of the game, here’s why the Blackhawks proved they’re the best team in the NHL last night:
The ‘Hawks came in on the tail end of a season-long eight-game road trip after trekking across 2/3 of the continent having to face the NHL’s points leader in its building. They received a thrashing from local media the past two days and were the butt end of jokes all across the Internet because of the limo incident heading into their biggest game of the season to date. Like a tired team, they burst out of the gates fast and lost the momentum as the game went on. They regrouped, made big plays when they needed to, withstood a relentless attack from a great team on the road and overcame everything to win a game many believe to be a preview of the Western Conference Final. Champions do things like that.
The game started much like the Black Wednesday Massacre, with the ‘Hawks jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead on goals from Dustin Byfuglien, Brouwer and Andrew Ladd. I was smiling ear to ear, then calmed myself. I knew it wasn’t going to be a blowout, and the Sharks are too damn good to let a five-game winning streak go down the shitter so easily while letting the ‘Hawks kick their asses twice in their own building.
I hate being right.
Slowly, the Sharks took advantage of the Blackhawks’ tired legs and chipped away. Joe Pavelski closed out the first period with a tap in goal, then added a second-period tally that hit off Marian Hossa’s skate and into the net past Cristobal Huet. The Sharks dominated the second period and carried the momentum into the third until Manny Melhotra redirected the tying goal into the net.
The fatigue led to poor passes and dog shit turnovers, which the ‘Hawks have been struggling with all season. Sometimes they get away with them. The Sharks took advantage.
While the meatheads will find something to bitch about, Huet is the reason tonight’s game went into overtime. The Frenchman made gigantic stops, including a one-on-one showdown with Dany Heatley when Huet shouldered a save off a Heatly slap shot from about 10 feet away. Each of his three GAA were unstoppable. No one makes those saves unless it’s plain luck.
In overtime Brouwer made a hell of a move to get into a good scoring position, saying in the postgame he took advantage of Huskins overplaying to the outside. Brouwer faked a slap shot, moved into the middle and wristed the winner top cheese past Evgeni Nabakov. Yummy.
- Brent Seabrook is playing like a steaming pile of cow dung of late. He was left ass over chin on a move by Patrick Marleau, only to be bailed out by Duncan Keith, and looked like he had crisco on his stick most of the night. Wake up, Seabs.
- The ‘Hawks should take the tape of the second period and bury it next to Jimmy Hoffa. That was not the Blackhawks. It was a bunch of tired, lazy jackasses wearing white Indian-head sweaters. Let’s never speak of this again.
- I still believe the Sharks were the better team for most of the game tonight, but the ‘Hawks were better at the RIGHT times. They started the game fast and made their mark, then sustained enough pressure in the third to fight off the attack and give themselves a chance to win it in overtime, which they did.
If an NHL schedule-maker dies within the next couple of days, it was me murdering him for making the Blackhawks fly cross-country to face the Carolina Hurricanes to bring this fartknocker of a road trip to an end.