Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Man, how about that Marian Hossa goal less than 40 seconds into the game? Unbelievable. 

I briefly thought that would spark the Blackhawks into rampaging over the Stars like Godzilla taking down Tokyo, but although the Hawks were the more dominant team in the first, there was no more scoring until Colin Fraser got one in during the last minute of the first period. Chicago was outshooting Dallas 3-1. 

As we've seen more than once this year, however, the Hawks came back out on the ice for the second, and just didn't seem to carry the same urgency in the second period as the first. Look, the Stars might have just had their post-season hopes crushed, and the coach might've stuck in some rookies and less experienced players to give them game time (because what's one more loss at this point, right?), but the Dallas players were still making effort. 

It's not to say they weren't scoring; Jonathan Toews tossed in the third goal. But it's like they decided to make up for their last few focused games, and they racked up a string of penalties (four in the second period) and were displaying that mid-game slump we've come to know and dislike. Steve Ott managed to get one by Antti Niemi, and the period closed out 3-1. 

Coach Q must've given them a kick in the butt during the break, because they came back out on the ice more focused than they were in the previous period. Colin Fraser got his second goal of the night, followed by Patrick Kane, to bring it up to 5-1. Okay, can begin breathing a little easier - there haven't been many games this season with huge, 4+ point spreads at the final buzzer, and we've seen disaster happen in this situation before.

Niemi has been wandering a little more out of the net lately, I assume as his confidence as grown, but there's been a time or two where he's almost been caught out on it. Tonight there was a very close call when one of the Stars zoomed in as he scooped the puck from behind the net, and nearly bagged a goal; Niemi made an amazing recovery save and prevented it.

James Neal of the Stars managed one more goal against Niemi, and then finally, game over, 5-2. Not the prettiest of games, but a win, nonetheless.

Dallas rookie Matt Climie performed pretty well, considering it was his 4th NHL game and his first NHL game this year; he stopped 38 shots (plus the 5 points, of course). Pretty good showing against one of the top teams in the league, grasshopper. 

With tonight's win, the Blackhawks set a franchise record of 50 games won in regular season play, and Colin Fraser got The Belt™ tonight!

* * *

The Hawks have their final faceoff of the season against the St. Louis Blues at home in Chicago on Wednesday night.

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