Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gooooooaaaallll! Hawks take Preds in OT to win Game 5

Remember when I said I don't need a gym workout for an aerobic workout, because I watch hockey? Yeah, today was that kind of game.

Although the Blackhawks came out very strong from the beginning, the Predators scored first, 6:23 into the first period, on a well-screened Niemi. Andrew Ladd tied it up at 9:57; and Niklas Hjalmarsson popped in the second point for the Hawks.

Most memorable moment of the first period, however, is when Niemi nailed a stop late in the first - and the puck disappeared.

"There no pockets in those pants, folks," the announcer pointed out, dubbing him "Pac-man" for "gobbling up the puck", as the referees patted down Niemi like he was going through a TSA checkpoint.

The puck was found - Jonathan Toews found it in Niemi's shirt - and the game rolled on. Tomas Kopecky made it 3-1, and late in the second period, Joel Ward brought the Predators within one with another goal for Nashville. 

This seemed to shake up the Blackhawks a bit, and while their play at the start of the third couldn't exactly be called sloppy, it can certainly be said that they lacked the intensity of the first two periods, and the Predators capitalized on it, taking it hard to Chicago's end. And while I'm a big fan of Niemi, I am hardly going to be alone in saying it wasn't his best game when Nashville bagged two more in the third period, drawing Nashville ahead to 3-4. 

Marian Hossa banged Dan Hamhuis into the boards with just over a minute left in regulation, taking a 5-minute penalty for boarding. Reporters/bloggers seemed eager to compare it to Ovechkin's hit which took Brian Campbell out for over a month, but it didn't really look like an intended hit, and we'll certainly hear more about that later. 

The Blackhawks certainly looked poised to lose the game and return to Nashville with a one-game deficit: Predators took the power play with under a minute left.

Patrick Kane had a bad turnover earlier which had led to a Nashville goal, but he redeemed himself with 13 seconds on the clock to get the tying goal. Talk about huge noise in the UC. Talk about Blackhawks fans everywhere having heart attacks from a combination of dread and excitement.

OT started with Nashville still having a 4-minute power play on the clock, but the Hawks entered OT with the same grit in their bellies as they'd demonstrated for most of the first two periods, closing down the Predators power play. And Hossa also redeemed himself - knocking in the game-winner seconds after stepping out of the penalty box.

Holy amazing come-from-behind-recovery story, Batman!

Now, with what is undoubtedly one of the most exciting games I've seen thus far for the first round series, the Blackhawks are one game away from advancing to the next round. I'm looking forward to seeing their Monday night game, played in Nashville - and I'm certainly not going to complain one little bit if I don't get to use my tickets for game 7.

More of this? YES, please! Let's go, Hawks!!

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