I was about ready to give up. I was resigned to the fact that the Blackhawks would be going back to Nashville down 3 games to 2 and on the brink of a first round elimination.
It looked even more bleak when Marian Hossa took a five minute boarding penalty with just over a minute left in regulation.
But then Patrick Kane found a loose puck* in front of Pekka Rinne and stuffed it in with about 14 seconds left. OK, so we’ll go to overtime.
But the Hawks still had almost four minutes in penalty time to kill off. That’s an eternity, especially in sudden death overtime.
They killed off one minute, then two, then three, and finally Hossa was out of the box. Not long after that, Hossa picked up a rebound * to the left of Rinne and stuffed it in for the game winner.
I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been more on edge in the late stages of a hockey game.
The Hawks blew a 3-1 lead, in typical Hawks fashion, but they showed incredible resilience to come back, tie it, kill Hossa’s penalty, and win it in Overtime.
Once they killed the penalty, I was actually fairly confident they would get the game winner. At least I was as confident as I could possibly be…
These games have been so back and forth, and today was no exception. The Blackhawks dominated the shot total, and at times were constantly in the Predators zone. That’s the Blackhawks’ M.O. They’re going to have to be able to do that if they want to win.
Their other M.O. has been turnovers in their defensive zone that lead to goals, and they had one or two of those today as well.
Let’s be thankful, though, that they never got down by more than two goals. Nashville’s style doesn’t easily allow quick goals, so a two goal deficit would have been nearly impossible I think.
Again, this series is legitimate proof that playoff seeds don’t matter in the NHL. Anything can happen in hockey. The Hawks now control the series with two chances to close it out.
You have to wonder what the mental state of the Nashville Predators is now. They went from being 14 seconds from going home with a chance to move on to overtime to heading home down 3-2. That’s got to be an unbelievable emotional roller coaster.
What do you say to your team if you’re Barry Trotz? What can you say? The Predators have no momentum going into Game 6. I guess they’ll have to hope that Chicago has one of those letdowns that so often follows a big performance.
Either way, Joel Quenneville and company have to be flying high on their charter down to Nashville, and might be able to play free and loose in Game 6. I have to think that if they can get out to a two-goal lead early, they may be able to coast into the Western Conference Semifinals.
*Highlights courtesy of WGN Radio Chicago, John Wiedeman and Troy Murray on the call.