There have been alot of “Big” goals scored in the long history of the Chicago Blackhawks, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live and in person. Last night however, the man known as “Big Buff“, scored one of the biggest in recent memory, and could be the biggest goal he’ll ever score. Dustin Byfuglien was left all alone in the high slot and Blackhawk centerman Dave Bolland, now known as “The Rat” made an absolutely beautiful pass to the big man, and Buff made no mistake, as he shot past the surprised and late to move over Evgeni Nabokov of San Jose.
The goal was Buff’s seventh of these playoffs, his second game winner, and the fourth game in a row that he’s scored for the Hawks. Always filled with drama, Buff’s goal came during an equally fought battle of two teams desperate for two different things. The Sharks trying to prevent a third loss in a row, and Chicago attempting to go up three games to none in the series. At 12:24 into overtime Byfuglien sent the United Center into quite the frenzy as the Hawks now, and I really am cautious of saying this, but will, have all the momentum of the series, and have the Sharks hanging on for dear life.
The drama in this one started early in the first as Joe Pavelski of the Sharks put a puck past Hawk goaltender Antii Niemi giving the Sharks a 1-0 lead. However after further review and from about four different angles, the goal was disallowed as it was proven that Pavelski kicked the puck in. Which as we all know, negates the tally.
Patrick Marleau of San Jose had two goals last night and almost had a third in overtime, but Niemi was again brilliant in goal for the Hawks stopping 44 shots as San Jose peppered the young netminder. But again and again, Niemi continued to say no, no, no.
Bolland who was a real pain in the ass for San Jose and Joe Thornton Tuesday night, scored on a breakaway, had six minutes of penalties and set up the game winner, was an integral part of last night’s victory. After scoring his goal the Versus announcers came up with this little diddy, “The Rat Found A Hole”, as Bolland’s shot squeezed in past Nabokov’s pad and the goal post.
Jonathan Toews who continues his point streak which is now at twelve, had two assists on the night giving him 25 points in the post season, made a beautiful pass to Patrick Sharp on his goal, and also gave Bolland his pass to send him in on the breakaway goal that had given the Hawks a 2-1 lead at that point. NHL on the Fly commentators would marvel at Captain Marvel and say, “How can a guy with zero shots on goal, have such an impact on a game”! Toews consecutive point streak which as I mentioned is now at 12 broke the Blackhawk record of 11 which was set by former Blackhawk great Stan Mikita, who was in attendance for last night’s game, as he is for most. It was also Stosh’s 69th birthday.
Taking nothing away from San Jose, who played one of their best games this series as they fought hard, kept coming at the Hawks and made the Hawks earn their goals, you have to hand it to Chicago. Every single player on that team is making contributions, many of which aren’t showing up on the scoreboard. Such as Marian Hossa, who some are accusing of not earning his pay as he has no goals so far in this series. What they aren’t praising however is how hard he’s playing off the puck, his forechecking, backchecking, penalty killing, has not gone unnoticed. Yes, he’s a bit snakebitten, but remember one thing. His goal against Nashville in overtime changed everything for the Hawks. If they continue to get contributions from others, and Hossa keeps doing what he’s doing, then it won’t matter who scores.
Another player that I want to mention as I begin to wind this post down is Hawk defenceman Brian Campbell. Since coming back from his broken collarbone, he has been a very calming influence on the Hawk backline. His puck carrying ability has been a huge factor for Chicago, but his play to keep the puck in the San Jose zone on Buff’s goal will make everyone appreciate that Dallon Tallon signed him as a free agent. A smart, smart play.
San Jose coach Todd McClellan said after the game that “Byfuglien got lost in the slot” on the winner. Which prompted this tweet from @NHLBlackhawks: Kind of like losing a small aircraft carrier, no?
Here’s the video of the game winner as described by TSN announcers, and if you don’t get goosebumps watching this like I do, then you need you’re heart checked. This reminds me of the many times that my brother and I would stand up in the second balcony cheering for the many big goals that we saw together, high fiving each other.
Well John, here’s another high five!
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