We could be entering controversial territory on our countdown of the most memorable Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville. Next up on the list, we have a fun game in hindsight that ultimately suffers from being part of one of the rare Blackhawks postseason series sweeps.
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When the second-seeded Blackhawks matched up with the top-seeded San Jose Sharks in the 2010 playoffs, fans likely expected a lengthy, grind-it-out series. What they got was four quick, but closely contested, games. We’re looking at one of those today.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 66: 2010 Western Conference finals, Game 3
Chicago Blackhawks 3, San Jose Sharks 2 (OT)
Chicago came into this game at the United Center coming off a sweep of the series’ first two games in San Jose. It was clear from the opening minutes of this one that both teams saw great importance in scoring first.
Dave Bolland nearly opened the scoring about 1:15 into the game with a great individual drive toward Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who stoned the attempt and drew a goaltender interference penalty in the process.
With Bolland in the penalty box, the Sharks nearly capitalized for the game’s first goal when Patrick Marleau threw the puck in front of Antti Niemi. Nobody could get a stick on the puck amid a scrum, but Joe Pavelski got a skate on it and booted it into the net. The play was initially ruled a goal, but the officials waved it off after a review, keeping the game scoreless.
Both teams had some good scoring chances from there on, but neither would dent the twine until a San Jose 5-on-3 powerplay early in the second period. With Bolland again in the box, this time for holding, and Marian Hossa following 33 seconds later on a hooking call, Pavelski threw the puck off Niemi’s goalstick. That sent it straight to Marleau between the dots, and he didn’t miss with a quick snapshot to put San Jose up 1-0 3:58 into the second.
Da Windy City
The Blackhawks received a powerplay of their own not too long after and converted as well. Patrick Kane found Jonathan Toews down low along the boards. Toews surveyed the scene and found Patrick Sharp sneaking in alongside Nabokov. Toews tossed a perfect pass through traffic in front of the net, and Sharp slammed it home to tie the affair at 6:59 in the second.
Something worth noting in this game: The Blackhawks were whistled for six penalties in the game, compared to the Sharks’ two. Generally, when Chicago commits too many penalties, the result goes the opposite way as it did here. But this team would not be denied.
Again, the teams would trade chances for a long while, with a big one for the Blackhawks coming when Niklas Hjalmarsson let loose a shot from the point midway through the second. It bounced around to Hossa, undefended right in front of the crease. Somehow, he couldn’t put it past Nabokov, leaving the game tied.
And that’s the way the game would stay until Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle tried to put a shot on net with about 7 minutes to go in the third. Toews got in front of it, and the puck bounced off his shinpads to Bolland. He broke up the ice and beat Nabokov on the break, seemingly putting the game away at 2-1.
But it wouldn’t stay that way. Maybe the Blackhawks let off the gas, as they’ve done with third-period leads on occasion. Regardless, a scrum in front of Niemi with about 4:30 left in the third saw Marleau sneak the puck into the net and tie the game at 2.
The Chicago Blackhawks received many huge plays in postseason action from former team member Dave Bolland. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Our previous entry on this list focused on Viktor Stalberg‘s penalty struggles being erased by an assist on the game-winning Blackhawks goal. The entry repeats that, as Bolland had committed three minor penalties heading into the overtime frame.
The key play started on a huge keep-in by Brian Campbell, who just barely kept the Blackhawks onside. Campbell’s pass found Bolland behind the net, and he was apparently the only one to see Dustin Byfuglien slipping to the area between the dots. Almost no one turned as Bolland threw the puck to the front of the net, and by the time Byfuglien snapped the puck past Nabokov, it was too late for the Sharks to react.
The win put Chicago up 3-0 in this Western Conference finals series and set the stage for the team’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1992. Niemi wound up with 46 saves on 48 shots, making several saves in succession on multiple occasions. Toews again proved his game is about far more than scoring goals, with his key block setting up a Blackhawks goals.
But why doesn’t it rank higher on this list? Again, it’s essentially due to the length of this series. The longer a series goes, the more memorable it typically becomes, especially if the team you root for wins. While many Chicago overtime games in the postseason fly up a list like this, the short series that this was hurts each individual game’s ranking.
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