By Michael Calvert
This matchup between two Western conference Cup hopefuls didn’t really provide much scoring opportunities, fireworks or even a lot of chippyness, but it still was a fairly exciting game.
The Hawks had their usual top line of Patrick Sharp and Hossa centered by Toews. Line two had Versteeg in place of Saad with Brandon Pirri in the middle, joined of course by Patrick Kane. The 3rd line benefited from the addition of Saad. Along for the ride was 3rd line stalwart Andrew Shaw and old man Zus at center.
In goal was current cup hero Corey Crawford vs former cup hero Antii Niemi. Crawford and Niemi are both beneficiaries of solid teams in front of them as they both sport a sub .920 save percentage to go along with excellent win loss percentages.
1st period: Much like the game itself nothing of stat worthiness occurred. There was about a 2 minute stretch where the 4th line kept San Jose pinned in their own end for about 2 minutes. Nothing, including a shot came of it, but it’s nice to see the 4th line show that much patience and ability to control the puck.
Both teams were guilty of 1 penalty each when superstars Patricks, Kane and Marleau each did two minutes in the box for violations on lesser players. No goals were scored on either power play and the first was scoreless.
2nd period: There were a lot more pucks on net for both teams ultimately resulting in a lot more scoring opportunities, alas no goals scored again. Both the Hawks and Sharks kept up a solid penalty kill against very strong power play teams. The Sharks killed off 2 Hawks PP’s and the Hawks snuffed out the only they had to face.
3rd period: The 3rd period provided all of the fireworks in this game. In fact one penalty provided all of the fireworks. On Brad Stuart’s penalty, Joe Pavelski potted his 29th of the season on some sloppy Patrick Sharp passing. It looked as though the Hawks might lose on a short hander which would be particularly frustrating to a fan, especially one in the Eastern time zone who stayed up until 1:30 to watch the game. However, just under a minute later Saad evened it up on a tap in from a very nice Kris Versteeg pass.
That was it 2 goals in 1 minute and 59 minutes of two teams struggling to get offense generated.
OT: OT came and went a lot like the game itself, most OTs seem to be back and forth scoring opportunity displays, but this one sort of began and ended.
Shootout: Crawford got housed. Hawks lose 2-1. 3-1 in shootout
Notes: Not a bad game, I suppose kind of like a premier league soccer game, good puck control, pretty good passing, goal tending just good enough and a few posts that need kissing.
Crawford got housed in the shootout but it was pretty nice goals by Pavelski and definitely Thornton.
Thornton’s goal was a gem, just pantsed Crawford with a sweet toe-drag right past him. I’m sure Crawford would have loved to get a stick poke on him as it was there, but Thornton just had his way.
The Marleau goal in the shootout was weak stuff, I wouldn’t have even required goalie pads to make that save, just maybe put my foot out.
Pavelski had a nice game, I guess he’s a superstar now, certainly has the numbers for it.
Thornton I don’t know if he came in just to take a shootout shot, I think I saw him hit someone, I guess he’s not a superstar any longer. At one point Edzo and Foley lamented on how shocked they were he wasn’t on team Canada. Ummmm, the guys got half a tank left and it’s team Canada it would have been nothing but sentiment for a player who hasn’t won anything to put him on that team of future hall of famers in their prime.