Monday, April 25, 2011

Smith's OT Winner Pushes Series to a Game 7

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Game 6-Round 1-Western Conference Quarterfinals
Final Score: 4-3 [OT] Hawks
 Scoring Summary
1st Period
2:06-VAN-Daniel Sedin [5] (Henrik Sedin [5], Alex Burrows [2])
14:57-CHI-Bryan Bickell [2] (Dave Bolland [4])
18:48-VAN-Alex Burrows [1] (Unassisted)
2nd Period
15:08-CHI-Dave Bolland [2] (Patrick Kane [5])
3rd Period
00:58-VAN-Kevin Bieksa [1] (Mason Raymond [2], Burrows [3])
2:31-CHI-PS-Michael Frolik [2] (Unassisted)
15:30-CHI-Ben Smith [3] (Niklas Hjalmarsson [2], Marian Hossa [3])  

It didn't matter what team you were rooting for on Sunday night because chances are you were on pins and needles the whole game.

For Hawk fans, those pins and needles got a tad more sharper early in the first period of Game 6.
The boys in red didn't exactly have the best start and 2:06 into the game, they were already down by one.
From the side of the left circle, Henrik Sedin sent a pass behind the net to his brother Daniel and he came to the side of the Hawks' net with a wraparound attempt. His shot bounced off of Hawk rookie goaltender Corey Crawford's pads and trickled its way over the goal line for Daniel's 5th goal of the series.

Patrick Kane had a golden opportunity to tie the game up after he had come out of the penalty box for serving a high sticking penalty. 
He was on a breakaway in all alone on Canucks backup goalie Cory Schneider, who was starting over Roberto Luongo. Kane tried to go five-hole on his backhand, but Schneider made the pad save.

It took the Hawks almost 13 minutes to respond on the scoreboard.
Dave Bolland lined up Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis and absolutely flattened him beneath the goal line. Hawks play by play man Pat Foley called it "The Bolland Blowup."
Because of that hit, Hamhuis coughed the puck up to the front of the net and big forward Bryan Bickell came in and put it past Schneider high blocker side for his second career playoff goal.
"Yeah, that was a big hit," Bolland told after the game, "It was a clean hit, too, right? So, it was satisfying and it led to a big goal as well."

With just over a minute to go in the period, the Canucks regained their lead. 
Hawks defenseman Chris Campoli had a good opportunity to clear the puck out of the zone from the slot, but he fanned on it. Alex Burrows picked up the loose change and fired a wrister over Crawford's right shoulder.

The Hawks had a golden chance to get a lead in the second period when they had a five on three power play for about a minute and a half. They had some good looks, but Schneider was outstanding and kept the score at 2-1.

The Hawks caught a break though with under five minutes left in the period.
Schneider came out of his net and into the trapezoid to play the puck and he threw it into the right corner and right onto the stick of Patrick Kane. Kane found Bolland coming into the slot and sauced it over to him. Bolland one timed it into the net.

Any momentum the Hawks took into the third period was thrown out the window 58 seconds in. Talkative Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa gave Vancouver the lead back as both teams were playing four on four hockey due to Henrik Sedin and Brian Campbell being in the box for coincidental minors.
Mason Raymond brought the puck into the Hawks' zone down the right wing boards and he had a two on one going with Bieksa who was coming down through the slot. Duncan Keith was the only man back and in position for the Hawks. Raymond shot the puck from the right circle and Crawford gave up a rebound, right to Bieksa, who poked it home.

The Hawks battled back thanks to Michael Frolik. 
Frolik had entered the Canucks' zone in the clear and was tripped up by Hamhuis' stick. The referee called it a penalty shot.
In Blackhawks franchise history, no player had scored on a penalty shot in the playoffs.
Until now.
Frolik went backhand, forehand and he got the puck past Schneider blocker side to tie the game up at 3.

"I [had] kind of a long shift before that," Frolik said after the game, "and I was a little bit gassed. I tried to keep my breath and calm [myself] down and the crowd was kind of crazy, too, so I kind of tried to focus on myself. "

Schneider was hurt on the play, which was later reported as leg cramping, so Luongo had to come in for him in relief.

The Hawks didn't get very many shots on Luongo when they should've since he was coming in cold. The Canucks seemed to handle the play for the rest of the period pretty well. But Crawford made some good saves to keep them in it.

The final horn of regulation went off and overtime was next.

Jonathan Toews had a beauty of a chance to get his first goal of the series and to win it 5 minutes in. From the top of the right circle, Kane found Toews all alone in the slot. He got the puck to Toews' tape, but Toews couldn't corral it and Luongo poked it away.

The Canucks had a couple of great chances in overtime. 
One came when Campoli tried to keep a puck in at the Canuck blue line but it slipped past him and Maxim Lapierre picked it up and brought it into the Hawks' zone on a two on one with Chris Higgins. Brent Seabrook, who was playing in his first game since sitting out with a concussion after that Raffi Torres hit, went down to block the shot, but Lapierre got the shot off and Crawford gave up a rebound that went into the slot. Higgins saw the puck just laying there, waiting to be put into the back of the net, but former Canuck Ryan Johnson came flying in from behind on the backcheck and was able to get the puck away from him and into the corner.

Nick Leddy also made a nice play not long after that when the Canucks had a 4 on 2 going in their favor. Leddy was able to get his stick in the shooting lane and deflected the shot out of play, into the netting behind the goal.

At the 15:30 mark of overtime, an unexpected hero emerged.
Marian Hossa was able to hold onto the puck beautifully as he stickhandled in the Canucks' zone through the left circle. He found Niklas Hjalmarsson at the point and Hjalmarsson sent a wrist shot at the net. Luongo gave up a rebound right out in front of him where Ben Smith was waiting and battling for position out in front with Daniel Sedin.
With Luongo down, and Sedin trying to tie him up, Smith scooped up the rebound and sent a backhanded shot over Luongo and into the back of the net for the game winner and to force a seventh game back in Vancouver.
It was Smith's third goal of the series, but the biggest one by far.

"I really just wanted to get to the front of the net," Smith told the media, "That's what I try and do, that's kind of my game is to be a body in front of the net and turn and whack at rebounds and that's what happened.
"Nik Hjalmarsson made a great, hard shot and the rebound bounced right there for me."

"He's been so fiesty. He's been doing it all," Toews said about Smith, "You never expect that from a guy that's played more postseason games than he has regular season almost. He's been awesome, scoring big goals for us. Obviously, it doesn't get bigger than that one right there."
"A few weeks ago, I didn't know I'd even be here," Smith humbly said, "It's really amazing and I'm just really thankful for all the help I've had, you know, friends [and] family supporting me and the guys in the room and all the support systems that I've had."
"They had a couple of chances [in overtime]," Crawford told the media, "A couple times they [had] great opportunities in the slot and we made a great play defensively to knock it away, one on the two on one there, a great backcheck to push it away in the corner and another one on the four on two where a guy gets his stick on it and it goes up in the net.
"Guys were sacrificing and doing everything we could to set us up for that goal."
Said Toews: "It was an unbelievable effort from the boys. We kept going down one goal a bunch of times but we stuck with it. A big penalty shot goal there late in the game [that] keeps us in it. We were just looking for that one break and we got it."
"At this point, it's nice to fight back," Crawford added, "but we still have one more. This was a great win for us, obviously [we have] a lot of momentum, but we got to keep it going. Game 7's probably gonna be even tougher. We gotta be ready."

"It's not over from here," Smith said, "We got a big challenge in Game 7 and we'll see what happens."
•The Canucks outshot the Hawks 35-33.
-The Hawks' power play went 0-4 and Vancouver's went 0-2.
-The Hawks won 43 faceoffs and Vancouver won 36.
-Chicago dominated in the blocked shots category. They blocked 31 whereas the Canucks only blocked 12.
•The 3 stars of the game were:
1. Ben Smith
2. Dave Bolland
3. Alex Burrows
•The Hawks' scratches were:
-Jordan Hendry [ACL]
-Tomas Kopecky [upper body]
-Jake Dowell [healthy]
-Fernando Pisani [healthy]
-Marcus Kruger [healthy]
•The Hawks' centermen's faceoff percentages were:
-Ryan Johnson: 75%
-Patrick Sharp: 56.2%
-Jonathan Toews: 54.8%
-Dave Bolland: 38.1%
Duncan Keith led the Hawks in ice time with 33:15.
Chris Campoli led the way in blocked shots with 6 of them.
Patrick Kane had a team high 5 shots on goal.
Bryan Bickell, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews each had 4 hits.
Brian Campbell took 44 shifts, a team high.
Jonathan Toews had five takeaways.
Patrick Kane's 5 assists are 6th in the NHL.
-Patrick Sharp is 6th in the league with 3 goals.
-Duncan Keith is 2nd in the league in goals with 4, 5th in points with 6, and 6th in shots on goal with 26.
-Ben Smith is 2nd in the league in shot percentage. His is 75%.
-Dave Bolland is tied for second in +/- with a +6 rating.
-Bryan Bickell and Niklas Hjalmarsson are tied for 4th in +/- with a +4.
-Michael Frolik and Chris Campoli are tied for 5th in +/- with a +3.
•The Hawks' next game is Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet and Versus. It's back to Vancouver for Game 7.
Bryan Bickell had surgery today to repair a tendon in his wrist.
Post Game Interviews
Coach Q 

Bryan Bickell celebrates his goal with Michael Frolik.

Dave Bolland celebrates after he scored in the second period.

Michael Frolik celebrates with the crowd after he scored on his 3rd period penalty shot.

Ben Smith celebrating with Marian Hossa after he scored the game winning goal in overtime.

Roberto Luongo after Smith scored in overtime.

The Hawks mob Smith after his game winner.

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