By Michael Calvert
In a game where the Hawks could really use the win and the Sabres really could use a loss, this game wound up developing into a nail biter, go figure.
1st period: The Hawks jumped all over the Sabres to begin the game, as anticipated. Keith netted the first goal only 2:16 into the game on a slapper glove side with Bickell providing the screen.
The Hawks maintained pressure for the next few minutes and at around the 4:00 mark really started pouring it on. The Sabres managed to weather that storm keeping the score at 1-0.
At 8:36 in the first, Sharp put a beauty of a move on the Sabres hapless d man and beat Lindback with a nice wrister, at this point it’s 2-0 and looks as though the rout is on.
The Hawks were able to kill off the only penalty asessed to them in the first requiring a couple nice saves from Darling.
The Hawks went on the pp with :16 seconds left in the first.
2nd period: Hossa nearly put the Hawks up 3-0 right off the 2nd period face off, but Lindback managed to make the save after Hoss shot through the entire 4 man team.
The Hossa play was pretty much the highlight for the Hawks in the second period as they just did not play it well at all.
The only scoring in the second period came when Foligno cleaned up the garbage in front of Darling at 16:30 cutting the Hawks lead in half. There wasn’t much Darling could have done to prevent the goal, he needed his d-men to clear the puck and they just didn’t.
The Hawks played a pretty listless second period and as a result went into the 3rd up only 2-1. The Hawks as it were are only 1 of 2 teams to not lose a game when up after 2 periods and damn near had that end against arguably the worst team in the league.
3rd period: Timonen breaking up a 2-1 was rightfully called for a tripping penalty, which I thought was a pretty good penalty as it broke up a very likely scoring play.
However, the penalty but the Hawks in the ass when the Sabres tied it up 2-2 on a redirect that again Darling had no chance on, as Eddie O stated multiple times.
Then what seemed unthinkable Foligno again cleans up the garbage in front of Darling and the Hawks find themselves down 3-2.
Wouldn’t you know, captain serious ties it up on a true hustle play at 18:20 putting in a loose puck in front of the net with the 6th man on the ice.
Less than a minute later Toews beats Lindback this time in a prettier fashion putting a wrister top shelf off the pipe, knocking off the ol’ Gatorade bottle for good measure. Hawks up 4-3.
Darling was actually required to make a couple pretty key saves in the last :10, but he was up to the task as he had been all game and the Hawks take the much needed 2 pts.
This game went from bad, to potentially disastrous to really good.
Darling was solid, the Hawks D not so much.
Sabres likely do not have a lot of strengths, and their own zone D is definitely not one of them.
This really was a bad game gone good.
What I’ll take from the game is not the Hawks blowing the lead, that happens, but the championship determination to scratch out what seemed a very unlikely win.
The Hawks lines looked different as usual with Vermette playing wing on the second line, moving Saad down to the 3rd line.
Versteeg- Toews- Hossa
Sharp- Richards- Vermette
Bickell- Shaw- Saad
Desjardins- Krueger- Teravainen