This. Is. Hockey. Hawks 3, Sharks 2 (OT)
What's more awesome than overtime hockey? Winning overtime hockey. The Sharks and Hawks once again played a very close game, this time in the United Center. And once again, the Hawks came out on top, with Dustin Byfuglien scoring the game winning goal in overtime. On the way there, we saw Jonathan Toews set a Blackhawks record for consecutive playoff games with points, Dave Bolland fulfill a Shoutbox prophecy and Antti Niemi, well, Antti Niemi keeps keepin' on.
I did want to make one comment on the Sharks before getting to the usual proceedings. They're in a deep hole now, but I'd like nothing better than for the Hawks to snuff them out on Sunday. This is a hell of a hockey team. They've played terrific hockey for the most part in the series, with the difference being that the Hawks have been slightly more terrific. And that slightly has made the difference. Let's hope the Hawks finish San Jose quickly, because despite what the 3-0 lead would indicate, these guys are no pushovers.
Jonathan Toews - Toews was the best player on the ice for either team tonight. Toews was dominant in all phases of the game,and the Hawks fed off their captain. Jonathan had 2 assists tonight, which illustrated just how complete a player he is. The first assist was a beautiful thread-the-needle pass to Patrick Sharp for the Hawks first goal. The second came when Toews blocked a shot that kicked out to Dave Bolland and set him loose on a breakaway.
Dave Bolland - "I feel like Bolland's find the back of the net tonight " - Mr. Tank in the Shoutbox at 7:55pm CST. Mr. Tank was right, because Dave Bolland did indeed find the back of the net on a breakaway where he managed to actually keep his patented forehand/backhand/forehand/side of the net in front of the goal and tuck the puck in past Nabokov. To top things off, Bolland fed Dustin Byfuglien with a sweet pass from behind the net to set up the game winning goal in overtime. If Bolland had stayed out of he penalty box, he'd have had the perfect night.
Antti Niemi - Niemi spent the night impressing the announcers, the crowd and the rest of us. He gave some rebounds, but most were steered to safety by his defensemen. Niemi surrendered only 2 goals, one of which came on a five on three in which a Shark and Duncan Keith were sitting on top of him. And he damn near made that save too.
Ben Eager - The fourth line was effective again tonight, and Eager was the primary reason. Ben was aggressive on the forecheck, hit every Shark that got near him, and generated several scoring chances. When a team can play their fourth line regular shifts during a game, it helps get the rest of the guys some rest. Rest that can be key to winning an overtime game. Nice work, Ben.
Patrick Marleau - This guy has scored 4 of the Sharks' 5 goals in this series. That deserves recognition.
I got no bad here. Other than the Hawks taking a few too many penalties, this was an excellent hockey game played by both sides. It'll be tough for the Sharks since they're now deep in a hole, but nobody should hang their heads after this one.
Here's a brawl between the Blackhawks and Flames from the 1989 playoffs. You might recognize the referee in this one. And his mustache.