“Aching Pain In My Chest”

by Patrick Stankus

Down two game to none, the Blackhawks traveled to Nashville on Monday night for Game 3 of their first round matchup with the Nashville Predators. The Hawks were looking to save their season after two lacklustre games in Chicago last week. Leading up to the game, many had questioned if Scott Darling would get the call in net for the Hawks, but Joel Quenneville quickly answered those questions by saying Crawford would indeed get the nod in net. With the Hawks facing just about a must win situation, it was time to take to the ice in Nashville.

In the first period, the Hawks actually got off to a decent start, registering six shots in the first half of the period. While the energy was there to start, it started to wane as the period wound down. The Predators eventually found their legs, and let a full on attack of the Hawks net. Luckily for the Hawks, Corey Crawford was on his game to keep the Predators off the board. In the final minutes, the Hawks generated a couple of looks, but couldn’t get one past Pekka Rinne, and after twenty minutes the game was scoreless.

When the second period got underway, came out much like they did to start the game. The difference this time is they were able to solve Pekka Rinne and get on the board first thanks to a Dennis Rasmussen goal. Riding the momentum of Rasmussen’s goal, the Hawks were able to add to their lead just past the midway part of the period. Patrick Kane tallied a power play goal to increase the lead to two. With time winding down in the period, the Predators kept coming and coming down the stretch. Corey Crawford was friggin’ outstanding and preserved the Hawks lead heading into the second intermission.

To start the third period, the Hawks seemed to weather the storm for the first couple of minutes. That changed a little after four minutes in as Nashville finally got on the board on a weird bounce off the glass, to cut the Hawks lead in half. As the period went on, the Hawks started to fall in to the “play not to lose” mode, a mode that is notorious for biting you in the ass. That bit in the ass came with extra sting as Filip Forsberg added his second goal to tie the game at two. After seeing Corey Crawford get bumped as the shot approached, Joel Quenneville challenged for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice stood, and we continued with a tie game. Down the stretch, once again, Corey Crawford stood tall in net, and  held the Predators off and sent the game to overtime.

In the overtime, it was everything you’d expect out of an overtime playoff game. The extra frame featured end to end action and countless chances for both teams. The best stop of the overtime came from Corey Crawford’s left pad on Kevin Fiala. In the final minutes of extra time, Marian Hossa turned the puck over at the blueline, and following a perfect dump in, Kevin Fiala deked his way past Corey Crawford to give the Predators a 3-2 win and a 3-0 series lead. Game 4 is set for Thursday night in Nashville.

The Good

  • For the first time in the series, the Hawks actually showed some life at the start of the game. While they hit a bit of a lull, overall the opening twenty minutes was pretty decent in my opinion.
  • If you had Dennis Rasmussen as the first Hawk to score in this series, please go collect your winnings. Moose broke the Hawks scoreless streak of 141 minutes, in the early moments of the second period, after a great pass from Marcus Kruger.
  • Midway through the second period, Patrick Kane increased the lead to two, and quieted the McCrowd in Nashville and around the fax machine.
  • Corey Crawford was outstanding in net for the Hawks. If you think he was the reason he lost, I’m sorry, but I have to politely say you don’t understand hockey. Crawford made 46 saves in the loss. His save on Fiala in overtime with his left pad was fantastic.
  • This was by Patrick Kane’s best game of the series. In addition to his goal, he was generating chances and was a force all night.
  • The line of Rasmussen-Kruger-Panik was a beast all night. They generated chances all night long. The only issue was Kruger getting hammered at the dot for a portion of the game.

The Bad

  • Jonathan Toews was in a battle all night long with P.K. Subban. At one point Subban gave Toews a slew-foot, and Toews returned the favor with a vicious slash.
  • Nick Schmaltz had a chance to make it a three goal game in the third period with a breakaway, but Pekka Rinne made a helluva stop to keep the Predators deficit at two.
  • Late in the third period, Filip Forsberg tied the game at two, on a goal in which Corey Crawford took a little contact outside the crease. Quenneville challenged the play for goalie interference, but the call of a good goal stood, and all hell broke loose on hockey Twitter in Chicago. It appears people forgot to mention the part of the rule where the contact occurred on a rebound. Its a goal people. Read the whole rule. 
  • Artemi Panarin looked completely uninterested tonight. I can’t remember a single moment where he dazzled with the puck.
  • Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson led the way on defense for the Hawks, by both being a -2 on the night.

The Ugly

  • Johnny Oduya nearly scored a goal from the Hawks defensive zone while on the penalty kill in the first period. Oduya caught Rinne leaving the net early, and the puck took a funny hop off the glass and trickled in front of the net before a diving Rinne poked it just wide. Its in the ugly because the Hawks couldn’t even score on this play.
  • Speaking of that penalty kill mentioned above, I have no idea what the hell Marcus Kruger was thinking when he took that penalty. He basically tackled Zolnierczyk for no reason.
  • On the Predators first goal, the Hawks were guilty of standing around, thinking the puck had gone out of play, when in fact, it hit the very top of the glass.
  • Artem Anisimov was an embarrassing 12% at the faceoff dot. You heard me right. 12 fucking percent.
  • It seems as if people have turned their head to the turnover by Marian Hossa that set up the Predators game winning goal, because TVR was on the ice. That turnover by Hossa was one the worst one I’ve seen by a Hawk since Kris Versteeg was here. I’ll do you one better. It was just as bad as the one by Martin Erat in 2010, in which Hossa capitalized on. That is where the game was lost. Those plays cannot happen in overtime.