BEDLAM: Hawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)
Wow, whatta game. The Hawks made this one a lot harder than it needed to be, I'll say that. They dominated the first two periods of play, taking a 3-1 lead on goals by Ladd(!), Hjalmarsson(!!) and Kopecky (!!!).
Then in the midst of a power play in that could have allowed them to seal the deal, the Hawks fell apart. Patrick Kane turned the puck over high in his own zone and the Preds got a short handed goal from Joel Ward to pull within one as the 2nd period ended. In the third, Nashville took it to the Hawks, and career-pain-in-the-ass Martin Erat scored two goals (both of which featured Dave Bolland being absolutely clueless in his own zone) to give the Preds a 4-3 lead. Then, while the Hawks were scrambling to tie the game, Marian Hossa took a terrible 5 minute boarding penalty (reminiscent of Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell). All looked lost. But Patrick Kane atoned for his earlier mishap by putting back a Jonathan Toews rebound with 13.6 seconds left, sending the game into overtime and putting the United Center up for grabs.
The Hawks then opened the OT on penalty kill (some would argue this was probably best for them at this point, as the PK has been the only unit to consistently show up for every game) and killed the remaining 4 minutes of Hossa's major. With Marion fresh out of the box, Dave Bolland drove deep into Preds territory, got the puck back to Brent Sopel who unleashed a shot from the point that was deflected by a Nashville d-man to the waiting Hossa, who capped off one of the most important comebacks in team history and sent the United Center up for grabs.
Man, you shoulda seen it.
Antti Niemi - the box score says Niemi was terrible, and he got himself out of position on at least one of the Preds goals, but he made the saves on the penalty kill in OT, when the Hawks needed them most. You stuff your save percentage in a sack, Mister.
Patrick Kane - Kaner had an assist and a goal - the biggest goal in the Hawks season to that point.
Marian Hossa - There's been some bitching in this series that the Hawks highest paid guys haven't shown up. Well, there was a Marian Hossa sighting today, and it was beautiful.
Brent Sopel - I can't decide if I'm going to vote for Sopel or Kopecky for the Conn Smythe.
Penalty Kill - killed off 5 penalties, including a major in a one goal win. Outstanding.
Marian Hossa - Not so fast, Marian. While and OT winner gets you in the good, Hossa's terrible major penalty nearly killed the Hawks season. He also missed an open net on his own bid to tie the game up right before that.
Dave Bolland - Bolland was uncharacteristically terrible in his own zone during the 3rd period. I'm not sure what the hell he was doing, but Martin Erat thanks him for it. If Bolland's not going to score enough to be a number 2 center, and he's not going to defend well enough to be a number 3, why the hell is he making $2.3 million again?
The Third Period - Much like game 3, the Hawks seemed surprised when the Predators came out with a lot of energy and took it to them. Gotta be better than that, boys.
Hossa's shove on Dan Hamhuis late in the third period was pretty much the same thing as Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell that broke Soupy's collar bone. Hamhuis wasn't hurt as bad, luckily for him (and the Hawks, as if he'd been injured, Hossa would have been ejected and not around to score the OT winner). It remains to be seen whether Marian misses any time.
Let's just hope the NHL is still using playoff version of Down Goes Brown's suspsension flowchart: