Let’s get one thing straight — Kris VERSTEEG! played like dog shit tonight. He played his usual I’m-going-to-skate-right-through-everyone-and-refuse-to-get-it-deep game, and the one time he actually slipped through the defense he gave up a 4-foot shot and passed it way too late.
He farted away a puck along the boards, then proceeded to take a dipshit penalty which he for some reason felt the need to argue. On a breakaway, Luongo covered all of the near post and left the far side open with a good shooting angle for VERSTEEG! But where did VERSTEEG! shoot the puck? Short side.
Oh, and I’ll also point out he was drifting in with a great look just before his game-winner yet skated the puck into trouble and lost control of it. For a good amount of time, I thought someone spray painted his visor.
But buddy, thanks for being in the right spot at the right time. You sir, VERSTEEG!, get your caps and exclamation point back — but just for the night.
VERSTEEG!’s goal with about 1:30 left in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and put the ‘Hawks in front for good on a night when Saturday seemed to be quickly replicating itself. Instead of heading to Vancouver down 0-2, the Blackhawks won yet another game in these playoffs in dramatic fashion. I just hope I don’t suffer an actual heart attack until Jonathan Toews hoists the Cup.
Here are some observations from Section 326, Row 12, Seat 9:
— Patrick Sharp is your real hero tonight. He played like a man possessed. Actually, like a handsome man possessed. His short-handed goal with 6:49 left to tie the game was a thing of beauty. Later in the period, he had a short-handed breakaway in which he forced Roberto Luongo down and flopping around without a stick. Unfortunately, Sharpie shot it just too high. If he potted that goal, the United Center would have been an outdoor venue.
— As my co-season ticket holder, Jeff Erikson, pointed out to me, Duncan Keith was flying around the ice tonight in Norris Trophy form. Sure, he had a brief stretch in which he gave away a couple pucks, but so did everyone. It was more the speed and solid positioning Keith had tonight which reminded me exactly why he’s one of the best defensemen in the league. He also passed up the shot to find an open VERSTEEG! for the winner.
— Brent Seabrook played like a monster tonight, the delay of game penalty not withstanding (and yes, he did actually push the net off the bearings). He was throwing his body all over the place and planting Canucks into the boards whenever he had the chance. He also got the ‘Hawks on the board in the first to ignite a furious offensive attack.
— Sticking with the defense, Niklas Hjalmarsson played awful tonight — and I don’t say that very often. First, he looked lost as Mason Raymond slipped behind him to poke home a loose puck to give Vancouver an early 1-0 lead. Then, Hjalmarsson lofted the puck over the boards which was the first D-O-G penalty leading to Vancouver’s 5-on-3 advantage and second goal of the night.
— Antti Niemi is the reason the Blackhawks only fell behind 2-0 instead of 5-0 early on. Niemi was peppered with pucks through the first seven-plus minutes and only gave up a goals on a defensive lapse and 5-on-3 disadvantage. He answered the critics tonight of whether he could bounce back from a shaky performance. Now, everyone shut the hell up about it. Please and thank you.
— What is very worth noting is the fact the Canucks played another fantastic game tonight. Luongo was great again, withstanding a furious onslaught from the Blackhawks offense to keep Vancouver ahead up until midway through the third period.
The major difference from Game 1 to Game 2 is simple — the ‘Hawks played the way they’re capable of playing and won. The Blackhawks are the better team, and they proved that tonight by winning when both squads play to their potential.
— Despite the fact Adam Burish missed on a breakaway attempt and Ben Eager was the culprit of the too many men penalty, the two combined on a couple hilarious moments tonight. First, they simultaneously gave Luongo a blatant snow shower and skated away like they did nothing wrong. Then as the linesman waited for TV to return from commercial before a neutral zone faceoff in front of the ‘Hawks bench, Burish and Eager were on the big screen shouting obscenities to a nearby Adam Burrows. It was easy to read lips, and I don’t even want to write some of the things they were saying. I laughed my ass off.
— Happy Birthday, John Madden.
It’s now best-of-5, puckheads. Vancouver, HERE COME THE ‘HAWKS!