Hawks Keep Cup Chances Alive, Force Game 6
If there was any doubt in the Hawks ability to fight, it was put to bed in last night’s double overtime victory against the Kings.
The media and fans alike are considering last night’s game the best in this postseason. Coach Joel Quenneville was quoted calling the overtime the greatest he’s ever seen. And for good reason. The game as a whole was a sheer battle of wills between two powerhouses and could have gone either way with a mere puck bounce or an inch difference in deflection. The two teams displayed a gut-wrenching effort throughout, giving fans plenty to be nervous about.
The Hawks scored 3 first period goals, taking a page from the Kings’ Game 4 book. Brent Seabrook broke the power play drought and scored on a rocket a minute thirteen into the first, with the help of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Johnny Oduya scored soon after on a scrappy goal, again with help from Kane and Andrew Shaw. The Kings’ Jarret Stoll ruined chances of a shutout later in the first, but the Hawks responded with a slick Brandon Saad backhanded goal to make it 3-1. Leading goal scorer Marian Gaborik minimized the Kings’ deficit to one before the end of the first.
After tallying only one point in the series prior to Wednesday night, Patrick Kane set a personal career high with three assists in the first period alone. Shaw added two points in the first, reminding everyone of his importance to the Chicago lineup.
The Kings went on to score two goals in the second, giving them a 4-3 lead and quieting the Chicago crowd. The equalizer came only a minute into the third, as Brandon Saad and Oduya setup young gun Ben Smith on a short goal beating Jonathan Quick down low to send the crowd into a frenzy.
After the teams could not finish the game in 60 minutes, overtime proved to be one of the most tense, high-strung periods of hockey seen in recent times. Corey Crawford stated he had “no time to be nervous”- at one point eight minutes went by without a single whistle. The crowd was palpable, and may have been the difference in their enthusiasm prior to the whistles to get the players going. The second overtime had the same tense feel. There were several quick end to end, but two minutes in, veteran Michal Handzus sealed the deal – assisted by who else but Saad and Kane, who finished the game with 3 and 4 points, respectively.
The Hawks displayed their old tenacity and fight the entire 82 minutes, which should bode well for the rest of the series. They obviously have the talent to hang with anyone, but must show their championship colors and play with heart and hunger. With their one-game-at-a-time mentality, the Hawks have a huge opportunity on Friday to equalize the series in LA and force a Game 7. Not to mention, they have won at least one road game in 12 consecutive series and have yet to win in LA this series. Let’s all hope they keep playing like it’s their last game of the season.